Paw­lenty slams GOP ri­vals’ ‘iso­la­tion­ist sen­ti­ments’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

A grow­ing schism within Repub­li­can ranks about U.S. in­ter­ven­tion abroad spilled over into the 2012 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign June 28, with for­mer Min­nesota Gov. Tim Paw­lenty urg­ing elected lead­ers to re­sist what he called “iso­la­tion­ist sen­ti­ments.”

The com­ments were aimed at a slice of the GOP pres­i­den­tial field that has called for a re­assess­ment of Pres­i­dent Obama’s strat­egy for Afghanistan and a re-ex­am­i­na­tion of the over­all U.S. mil­i­tary pos­ture around the globe.

“Amer­ica al­ready has one po­lit­i­cal party de­voted to de­cline, re­trench­ment and with­drawal,” Mr. Paw­lenty said in stak­ing out the hawk­ish po­si­tion in a speech at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions in New York. “It does not need a sec­ond one.”

While the GOP in re­cent years has been seen as the party more in fa­vor of a ro­bust mil­i­tary pres­ence through­out the world, that cal­cu­la­tion has been changed un­der Mr. Obama, who ex­panded the war in Afghanistan and this year com­mit­ted U.S. forces to lead and then aid NATO in main­tain­ing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Mean­while, tight bud­gets at home have some Repub­li­cans wor­ried that the coun­try can­not af­ford those on­go­ing en­gage­ments on top of the ex­ist­ing costs of U.S. troops sta­tioned through­out the world.

Among the can­di­dates for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney has sug­gested it’s time to re­think the mis­sion in Afghanistan, while for­mer Utah Gov. Jon Hunts­man Jr., in his speech an­nounc­ing his can­di­dacy, called for a shift away from over­seas con­flict, say­ing it is “not that we wish to dis­en­gage from the world, but rather, that we be­lieve the best long-term na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy is re­build­ing our core here at home.”

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a long­time op­po­nent of ex­ten­sive U.S. en­gage­ment, is call­ing for big cuts to for­eign as­sis­tance and is lead­ing ef­forts to force Mr. Obama to with­draw U.S. forces from the Libya con­flict.

“It is a fight for the soul of the Repub­li­can Party,” said Max Boot, a Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions se­nior fel­low who sug­gested that part of what is go­ing on is po­lit­i­cal jock­ey­ing as the can­di­dates try to stake out po­si­tions that dis­tin­guish them from one an­other. “There’s al­ways a dan­ger that a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent might suc­cumb to the siren song of iso­la­tion­ism and that’s why I think it is good Paw­lenty is mak­ing a clear ar­gu­ment against it.”

Mr. Paw­lenty is still look­ing to carve out his niche in the pres­i­den­tial race, as he has strug­gled to gain trac­tion in early polls, de­spite rolling out some of the more far-reach­ing pro­pos­als of the cam­paign sea­son, in­clud­ing an eco­nomic plan that aims to gen­er­ate an av­er­age level of an­nual eco­nomic growth that hasn’t been seen since the 1960s.

In his for­eign pol­icy speech, Mr. Paw­lenty warned that some Repub­li­cans are try­ing to “out­bid the Democrats in ap­peal­ing to iso­la­tion­ist sen­ti­ments” and that his­tory has shown how in the long run that “weak­ness in for­eign pol­icy costs us and our chil- dren much more than we’ll save in a bud­get line item.”

“Our en­e­mies in the war on ter­ror, just like our op­po­nents in the Cold War, re­spect and re­spond to strength. Some­times strength means mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion. Some­times it means diplo­matic pres­sure. It al­ways means moral clar­ity in word and deed,” he said. “That is the legacy of Repub­li­can for­eign pol­icy at its best and the banner our next Repub­li­can pres­i­dent must carry around the world.”

The cam­paign of Mr. Hunts­man, who made waves with his re­cent call for ac­cel­er­at­ing the with­drawal of troops from Afghanistan, fired back af­ter Mr. Paw­lenty’s speech, say­ing the for­mer Utah gov­er­nor, who re­cently gave up his post as am­bas­sador to China, be­lieves the coun­try’s abil­ity to achieve its goals abroad de­pends on a more ag­ile mil­i­tary pos­ture.

“Our 21st-cen­tury en­emy is even more scat­tered, and it re­quires a nim­ble, mod­ern re­sponse that is re­flec­tive of the threat,” Hunts­man spokesman Tim Miller said. “That re­sponse is not 100,000 troops nation-

Other lawmakers, in­clud­ing Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky, con­tinue to brush aside the iso­la­tion­ist la­bel, call­ing it a pe­jo­ra­tive term “used by peo­ple who don’t want to have a dis­cus­sion about what is work­ing or not in our for­eign pol­icy.” “We need a more hum­ble ap­proach to for­eign pol­icy, one that does not in­clude na­tion­build­ing and be­ing the world’s po­lice­man,” Mr. Paul said. “Our coun­try can­not af­ford to spend hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars re­build­ing other na­tions while ig­nor­ing our cri­sis at home.”

build­ing in Afghanistan; it’s spe­cial forces and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers in ev­ery cor­ner of the globe.”

The ten­sion has played out on Capi­tol Hill on Libya in the past month as many Se­nate Repub­li­cans have joined Democrats in em­brac­ing a more ad­ven­tur­ous role there, while House Republi- cans have led the op­po­si­tion to Mr. Obama’s de­ploy­ment of Amer­i­can air power to that North African nation.

Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona, the party’s 2008 nom­i­nee, has crit­i­cized those who have op­posed ex­panded U.S. in­volve­ment in Libya, and some of the GOP can­di­dates for com­ments they made dur­ing a de­bate in New Hamp­shire, where Rep. Michele Bach­mann of Min­nesota said she doesn’t think there is a vi­tal na­tional in­ter­est in Libya. Mr. Rom­ney said that when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, “we’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of in­de­pen­dence for an­other nation.”

Other lawmakers, in­clud­ing Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky, con­tinue to brush aside the iso­la­tion­ist la­bel, call­ing it a pe­jo­ra­tive term “used by peo­ple who don’t want to have a dis­cus­sion about what is work­ing or not in our for­eign pol­icy.”

“We need a more hum­ble ap­proach to for­eign pol­icy, one that does not in­clude nation-build­ing and be­ing the world’s po­lice­man,” Mr. Paul said. “Our coun­try can­not af­ford to spend hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars re­build­ing other na­tions while ig­nor­ing our cri­sis at home.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

For­mer Min­nesota Gov. Tim Paw­lenty (right) fa­vors an ac­tively-en­gaged Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy while Rep. Ron Paul of Texas wants to rein in what he sees as over-ex­tended com­mit­ments.

‘Fight for the soul of the Repub­li­can Party’:

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