PPI’s Will Marshall writes for Foreign Policy on why Barack Obama’s correction to the excesses of the George W. Bush years was necessary, and why a cold-blooded realism is not enough to safeguard America interests and promote its values.
One of the most striking aspects of the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign has been Barack Obama’s ability to neutralize the Republican Party’s traditional advantage on national security. Voters see Obama as a better commander in chief than Mitt Romney and have more confidence in his ability to handle foreign policy.
How much this will matter in an election dominated by economic anxiety remains to be seen. But closing the national security confidence gap that has dogged Democrats for nearly 50 years is no mean accomplishment — if it lasts.
Republicans, meanwhile, have splintered into rival camps. Centrist internationalists like Dick Lugar are out of favor, leaving realists, neocons, Tea Party nationalists, and neo-isolationists to battle it out for the party’s soul. Romney hasn’t even tried to weave a coherent story about America’s global role from such incongruous strands, confining himself instead to scattershot criticisms of Obama’s polices and hackneyed slogans about “American exceptionalism” and “peace through strength.”