In my latest column at The Daily Caller, I attempt to demonstrate that many Republicans’ disagreements with Ron Paul on foreign policy have mostly to do with old partisan attachments that prevent any serious reassessment of our current policies. One-time possible 2012 Republican presidential contenders like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all expressed foreign policy views similar to what Paul espouses. Yet, each of these Republican leaders decision to not enter this race has left Paul as the only viable candidate making the argument for a more practically prudent and fiscally responsible foreign policy. Or as The Politico’sJames Antle asks What GOP foreign policy debate? (emphasis mine):
Remember the foreign policy debate that was supposed to break out in the Republican Party during next year’s primaries?
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels… ruffled hawks’ feathers by suggesting that America might have to shrink its military footprint around the globe to restore solvency to the federal budget. He proposed a defense budget test.
“What size and kind of military is absolutely essential to preserve the physical safety of Americans?” Daniels asked. “What, very strictly defined, are the national interests of our country?”
He reminded audiences concerned about the U.S. world leadership, “If we go broke, no one will follow a pauper.”
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, one of the most successful Republican National Committee chairmen in recent history, sounded a similar note. “Anybody who says you can’t save money at the Pentagon has never been to the Pentagon. We can save money on defense. And if we Republicans don’t propose saving money on defense, we’ll have no credibility on anything else.”
Barbour also questioned how long the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan. “What is our mission?” he asked. “How many [members of] Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan? … Is that a 100,000-man Army mission?”
He then answered his own question:, “I don’t think our mission should be to think we’re going to make Afghanistan an Ireland or an Italy.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has also said, “The United States must also become more discriminating in what we try to accomplish abroad,” he said in a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library.
Christie acknowledged the limits of using the military for nation-building. “We certainly cannot force others to adopt our principles through coercion,” Christie continued. “Local realities count; we cannot have forced makeovers of other societies in our image.”
Daniels, Barbour and Christie are not running for president. Romney is. The former Massachusetts governor seems also to have considered the case for foreign policy restraint…. (but) it seems that Romney has since decided to move in the opposite direction. He now resists further cuts to the defense budget, arguing instead that military spending should be increased. He argues for a larger role for the U.S. military on the world stage. He warns against “isolationism” — though the country is now engaged in three wars.
Romney’s foreign policy team is dominated by people who advised former President George W. Bush.
Antle adds, and this is key:
Most other Republican presidential candidates would be likely to draw from a similar talent pool.
Antle then concludes:
So despite initial impressions that much has changed since 2008, the Republican foreign policy debate may remain Paul versus everyone else.
My conclusion: The foreign policy debate Daniels, Barbour and Christie think the GOP desperately needs to have now falls, as Antle points out, squarely on the shoulders of Ron Paul–and if conservatives are serious about a more fiscally responsible and prudent federal government, this is unquestionably a debate the Republican Party and this country must have.