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New York Times

How Republicans Lost a Clear Voice About Foreign Policy

For decades, Senator Lindsey Graham traveled the world with her friend John McCain, visited war zones, and met with foreign allies and adversaries. After that, he returned to Japan to promote the Republican gospel of internationalist hawkish foreign policy. But this week, after President Joe Biden announced that his troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, Graham took the podium at the Senate press gallery, implying that it was a bit lonely to spread the party’s message. It was. Sign up for The New York Times The Morning Newsletter. “I miss John McCain, but probably only today,” Graham said. “If John was with us, I would speak second.” McCain, a former POW in Vietnam, embodied a unique Republican worldview in many ways. Starting from the Cold War, after serving as presidents of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, the September 11 attack to explain the threat of global terrorism. Then Donald Trump came. He campaigned with the promise that America would be the top priority. He is an isolated mantra that resonates with a country tired of endless warfare. Today, Republicans who have lost power in Washington have split into different factions with few people in control. In the Senate, no one has built a reputation as a foreign policy leader, like McCain and Senators Richard Luger and John Warner. Far from entering his administration, Trump defended much of the party’s policy-making establishment by alienating dozens of foreign policy experts who refused to support his campaign. And for ambitious Republican executives, political calculations remain tough. As long as Republican voters have a complete interest in foreign policy issues, many have come to accept Trump’s nationalist views on issues such as trade, foreign military ventures, and even Russia. “Boy, I’m having a hard time,” said former Republican senator Chuck Hagel when asked to appoint a Republican foreign policy expert in the Senate. “The emphasis on foreign policy was probably not the same as Senator, but I can’t think of Dick Lugar, John Warner, or the people I served with.” Graham, who has always cast a shadow over McCain as the voice of the Republican foreign policy, spoke at a press conference on Wednesday for more than 30 minutes, explaining the history of the Afghanistan conflict to his listeners. “This is what they can do when they ignore the threat of the enemy,” he said, gesturing in a large photo of the burning World Trade Tower. “This and the possibility of this happening again has passed through the roof after today’s President Biden’s decision.” Other major condemning Trump’s pledge to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Republicans also imposed the traditional Republican view of using American power to protect national interests. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell warned that withdrawing troops would be a “serious mistake.” “Apparently, we will help the enemy ring on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack by gift-wrapping the country and returning it to them immediately,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor. However, that view was far from uniform. Senator Rand Paul, who had long opposed foreign intervention, said he was “thankful” to Biden. “Sufficient endless war,” he tweeted. Senator Ted Cruz told CNN, “I’m happy that the military is back.” And Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who has the ambition to develop a new policy framework for the party, praised the decision. “President Biden should withdraw Afghan troops by May 1, as planned by the Trump administration, but never later,” he said. “It’s time for this eternal war to end.” The controversy is neither new nor contained to the Republicans. Many Democrats have come to believe that foreign policy should serve domestic economic and political goals much more heavily than ever before. However, Senator Jack Reed, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Military Commission, warned that a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan could pose a serious national security threat. For Republicans, an inward shift occurs as their long dominance over national security and international affairs is waning. Trump rejected the legitimacy of Republican foreign policy, but struggled to go beyond the vague notion of putting America first and to clarify a cohesive and counter-view. He embraced influential people, cast long-time allies as free-riders, favored a transactional approach, and rejected the concept of values-driven foreign policy that had defined the party for decades. The establishment of the party’s foreign policy was itself banished from Trump’s government and fought for relevance to the base of the rebellious isolationist party. Lanch Chen, a scholar at the Hoover Institution and a policy adviser to many prominent Republican executives, said: .. “The characters change, the terminology changes, but the differences remain.” But the old debate faces the political need to develop a platform that goes beyond simply opposition to what the Democratic administration does. This brings a new political resonance to the party. “Whenever there was no White House and we couldn’t control Congress, it was time to look inward and understand what the dominant view was,” Chen said. Republican bases focus on issues such as election re-litigation and so-called cancellation culture, so there is little debate about what big agenda the party should pursue. However, some experts are seeing an opportunity for Republicans to clarify a new conservative view of national security issues. Foreign policy, especially withdrawal from Afghanistan, was one of the few areas in which elected Republican officials were willing to criticize Trump publicly. Now that he has resigned, foreign policy experts who have blamed Trump throughout his administration and supported Biden by dozens have said that the party’s consensus is free trade, more open immigration, and re-acceptance of the International Alliance. I hope to return to the traditional Republican values. Kori Shake, who directs diplomatic and military policy research at the conservative American Enterprise, said: It is a research institute and participated in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. Still, it seems unlikely that the Republicans will achieve a full restoration of the traditional platform. Especially if Trump continues to bend his political power within his base. The former president captured the hearts of believers and changed his mind on the issue of globalism. During his administration, polls showed that Republican voters adopted Russia’s more positive view and became more skeptical of trade agreements and the League of Nations. A study conducted by the Chicago Global Affairs Council last year found that Republican voters prefer a more nationalist approach, assessing economic self-sufficiency and taking a one-sided approach to diplomacy and global involvement. It was. Republicans surveyed said the outbreak showed that the United States should be less dependent on other countries than just 18% of Democrats who said the same thing. Nearly half of Republicans agree that “the United States is rich and powerful enough to go alone without being involved in other problems in the world,” and two-thirds of the country produces its own goods. He said he liked to do it. Opposed to buying and selling overseas. Another study by Tony Fabrizio, one of Trump’s pollsters, shows that only 7% of Republicans are interested in economic issues, while only 7% prioritize national security and foreign policy issues. There are nearly a quarter. “We don’t want to engage in nation-building. We don’t want to be involved in endless police action,” said John McLaughlin, who also conducted a Trump poll. “President Trump was ahead of the curve when we said we needed to take America’s first policy. That’s where public opinion is within the party.” Much of that debate is Republican. Candidates may be deployed early in the 2024 presidential election as they seek to improve their foreign policy credibility. Some have already cast themselves as heirs to Trump’s legacy. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are widely believed to be considering a presidential bid. Pompeo, who recently co-chaired the Nixon Foundation’s new foreign policy group aimed at reaffirming “conservative realism,” said he supported Biden’s decision. “It’s perfectly appropriate to reduce our footprint in Afghanistan,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News. “That’s right.” The comment marked a rare praise from a man who has emerged as Biden’s most outspoken critic among former Trump officials. Of course, as Fox News hosts pointed out, if Trump wins the reelection, the military will return next month-with Pompeo’s full support, if not many other Republican leaders. It was. This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company