This week’s political uproar over bloodshed in Libya and Egypt was a sharp reminder to Republicans: It’s tough to be the opposition party when it comes to matters of national defense.Daniel Larison notes that in this 3 page article there is not a single mention of the reasons for the disadvantage - Iraq and George W Bush.
And for Republicans, the challenge is actually deeper than being out of power. For more than a generation, stretching back to the age of Vietnam and the Cold War, the GOP has been the electorate’s default choice on national security. Not so this year, when the party and its presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, have struggled to confront both internal divisions and a landscape of global challenges that defy straightforward, doctrinal definition.
It’s not a unique predicament for either political party to struggle on national security issues when the other guys are running the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. Both parties are still grasping for overarching policies that make sense of a world beset by still-potent terrorist networks, the unpredictable aftermath of the Arab Spring and an economically ravaged Europe.
Still, Republicans aren’t accustomed to fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the country’s defense. For the entire span of the Bush administration, the party was united by its pride in the president’s response to Sept. 11 and its support for the White House’s “freedom agenda” — promoting democracy across the Muslim world, in some cases with the help of the armed force.
It isn’t possible to account for the Republicans’ loss of their advantage on foreign policy and national security without specifically addressing how the Iraq war and the GOP’s dead-ender embrace of the conflict destroyed it. Republicans were on the losing side of the foreign policy debate four years ago, but they didn’t know it. Because McCain was the nominee, and because McCain’s ratings on these issues were often higher than Obama’s, the assumption was that the traditional Republican edge remained. The truth was that the Iraq war had eliminated that edge, and in the four years since then the party has been unable to win it back because they still don’t fully appreciate why they lost it.There are two words the Republicans dare not say - Bush and Iraq. In spite of this the few specifics Romney gives can only lead one to believe that his foreign policy would be nearly identical to the foreign policy of Bush/Cheney. It's not too difficult to see why Romney is losing the foreign policy war. Romney has made it clear that he will turn U.S. Iran policy over to extremists in Israel - under Romney the tail will continue to wag the dog. Probably not a good way to win over any of the few undecideds.
Romney is a captive of the discredited neoconservatives.