Speak Loudly But Carry A Small Stick


That’s the message Yglesias gleans from a new Politico poll (pdf), which finds that Americans are wary of getting involved in foreign wars but still trust Republicans more than Democrats on foreign policy:

By a margin of 39 to 32 the GOP is the party that’s more trusted with the country’s foreign policy. That points to an optimal political strategy for Republicans of complaining loudly and repeatedly about Obama’s lack of leadership in various foreign crises without saying too much in detail about what they would do specifically. In other words, what the GOP is already doing. Most people, it turns out, don’t have detailed and fully coherent ideas about the whole range of public policy issues so they can turn toward the more hawkish party without embracing any particular hawkish ideas.

Drum is on the same page:

Bottom line (for about the thousandth time): Americans prefer the actual foreign policy of Democrats, but they prefer the rhetorical foreign policy of Republicans. They want lots of bluster and chest thumping, but without much in the way of serious action. In other words, pretty much what Reagan did.

By “serious action” I assume Kevin means actual military conflict by the US (and not by proxies). And isn’t this merely a predictable response for a country still reeling from the over-reach of the Bush years? Of course we still want the illusion of controlling and running the world; we just know deeper down that we can’t, and when we’ve tried, have been humiliated. So there remains some hope that somehow some figure can restore it all, which is why I fear the GOP candidate will run on a classic peace-through-strength platform in 2016.

But the far more important fact is that the GOP can have all the debates it wants between non-interventionists and neocons and global hegemonists. In the country at large, the non-interventionists have already won.