Republicans and National Security

REPUBLICANS AND NATIONAL SECURITY….I don’t plan to comment on everything that happened while I was gone, but I do want to highlight something Dan Drezner wrote this weekend that’s also been on my mind lately. The Los Angeles Times ran a package of articles on the “Conservative Crackup,” and Dan’s contribution provided several reasons why George Bush is having so much trouble with his own party in the area of foreign policy. Here’s one of them:

Second, conservatives disagree about foreign policy just as much as Democrats. At this point, the GOP is split between realists and neoconservatives.

….What makes today’s atmosphere so perilous for Bush is that both sides of the Republican divide feel betrayed. The conservative realists outside the administration, who thought the pre-9/11 Bush was one of their own, were alarmed by the decision to invade Iraq. They expressed grave doubts about the war ? and it looks as if their fears were realized. The absence of a stable Iraq has hamstrung the White House in other areas where force might need to be an option.

Meanwhile, the neoconservatives have become disillusioned too, as Bush’s second-term foreign policy has failed to even remotely match the ambitious rhetoric of the second inaugural.

It’s true that Democrats often seem hopelessly muddled when it comes to presenting a compelling foreign policy message, but the core of Dan’s piece is an acknowledgment that Republicans have the same problem. It’s just not quite as obvious yet.

So without minimizing the need for Democrats to get their national security house in order, can I ask just what the Republican national security strategy is these days? Seriously. The Bush Doctrine is pretty much in tatters ? even W himself doesn’t seem to be up for any further preemptive military adventures at the moment ? and aside from “staying the course” in Iraq and conducting an almost comically muddled and contradictory public diplomacy campaign, what exactly is it that Republicans think we should be doing? Aside from talking tough?

As Ronald Reagan said, “Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.” That’s true even when the bayonets are ours, and I think most Republicans have figured that out by now. But if military force is no longer the cornerstone of the Republican strategy to fight the war on terror, what is? In 25 words or less?