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National Security Advisor for StrategicCommunications Ben Rhodes summed upthe practical challenges facing the countrywhen the Obama administration took office
in 2009: “Wind down these two wars, re
-establish American standing and leadershipin the world, and focus on a broader set of priorities, from Asia and the global economyto a nuclear-
Opinion polls suggest that Americansbroadly
support the Obama administration’s
strategy and its results, as well as the ideasabout marrying strength, cooperation andburden-sharing that underlie it.
Over the last three years Americans haveseen the deaths of Osama bin Laden andmore than three dozen other key figuresweaken but not destroy the terrorists whowould threaten us. They have seen successin locking down nuclear materials aroundthe world and in reducing both the U.S. andRussian arsenals. At the same time, concernspersist about nuclear programs in Iran,North Korea and elsewhere. Americanscheered the struggle for freedom in the ArabSpring and watched with concern as the
region’s political dynamics have grown
more complex. Washington successfully ledan effort to stop a meltdown of the globaleconomy but has not yet seen recovery athome
nor has Congress yet risen to thechallenge of tending the domesticfoundations of our global power througheducation, infrastructure and economicrevitalization.The public continues to seek above allleadership that reinvigorates the U.S.
economy by boosting America’s role in the
global economy; keeps the country safefrom terrorism and war; and plays a role,with U.S. allies and partners, on globalissues that is commensurate with ourinterests and values.Even as the U.S. economic recoverycontinues to lag, a Gallup poll from earlierthis year showed that by a 2-to-1 margin,66% to 32%, Americans prefer that theUnited States be a major rather than a minorplayer on the world stage in trying to solveinternational problems.
There’s also strong
support for diplomacy before resorting tomilitary force. According to a Pew poll fromearlier this month, 58% of Americans saythe best way to ensure peace is through gooddiplomacy, versus 31% who say militarystrength is the best way to achieve peace.That Pew poll also showed that 53% of thepublic said that in foreign policy the U.S.should take allies
interests into accounteven if it means making compromises,versus 36% who said America should followits own interests no matter how it affectsallies.
Ideology Over Policy: “Bad
alysis and Worse Solutions”
Against that backdrop, a growing chorus haslooked to the 2012 contest for fresh thinkingabout the challenges we face
and comeaway disappointed. Recently, the New York
Times editorial board wrote that, “Certainly,
the Republican hopefuls have put to rest anylingering notion that their party is the one to
trust with the nation’s security.” In a time of
persistent, complex global challenges, the
Times opined, “the candidates offer largely
bad analysis and worse solutions, nothingthat suggests real understanding or new
Even conservative columnist Marc
Thiessen bemoaned that, “You would not
know it from the GOP debates so far, but thenext president of the United States will also
be the next leader of the free world.”
Front-runner Governor Mitt Romneydisappointed on October 7 in what his owncampaign billed as a major foreign policyspeech at the Citadel. Michael Tomasky of