The Return of the Humble Foreign Policy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 14 2011 8:03 AM

The Return of the Humble Foreign Policy

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- So little time was spent on foreign policy last night that I didn't see much about it in debate wraps. Looking over the answers now, I notice that they were more skeptical, more bearish on foreign intervention, than anything we heard from Republicans in the post-9/11 years.

Romney:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation.  Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban.

Gingrich:

I think that we should say to the generals we  would like to figure out to get out as rapid as possible with the safety  of the troops involved.  And we had better find new and very different  strategies because this is too big a problem for us to deal with the  American ground forces in direct combat.  

Cain:

If it's not in the vital interest of  America,  To paraphrase my grandmother, with the situation in Libya and  many of these other situations, they're not simple situations.

Bachmann:

Our policy in Libya is substantially flawed.  It's interesting.   President Obama's own people said that he was leading from behind.  The  United States doesn't lead from behind.  As commander in chief, I would  not lead from behind.     We are the head.  We are not the tail.  The president was wrong.  All we  have to know is the president deferred leadership in Libya to France.   That's all we need to know.

The Bachmann answer is more of a word potpourri than the others, yes, but read literally she seems to be saying the United States was dragged into a folly of a war by France. Which means she and the other candidates onstage take a position to the left of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, et al. Pawlenty and Santorum were more boosterish of American power, but they got different questions -- and they were nowhere near as bullish as, say, McCain was was about the surge.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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