I finally got to the Rudy piece in Foreign Affairs. I would agree with Rich Lowry that it seems to strike a balance between traditional conservative themes– America’s unique role in the world, strengthening our military and the importance of understanding our enemies — with an appreciation that we need help from allies and international organizations to defend our interests and promote peace and stability. His view of democracy building seems restrained and modest at best. I think all the GOP candidates will be faced with questions about the limits on our ability to promote democracy and the necessity of hard nosed diplomacy and alliance building. Castigating the U.N. and some of our less than enthusiastic allies can be a full time occupation but it seems smart to set out a guide to what a post-Bush foreign policy might look like. One other observation: Giuliani makes a much needed plea for improved public diplomacy. He writes: “The time has come to refine the diplomats’ mission down to their core purpose: presenting U.S. policy to the rest of the world. Reforming the State Department is a matter not of changing its organizational chart — although simplification is needed — but of changing the way we practice diplomacy and the way we measure results. Our ambassadors must clearly understand and clearly advocate for U.S. policies and be judged on the results. Too many people denounce our country or our policies simply because they are confident that they will not hear any serious refutation from our representatives. The American ideals of freedom and democracy deserve stronger advocacy. And the era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end.”
If there is one thing most Americans can agree on is that from President Bush on down we have done a simply awful job of explaining our foreign policy goals, advocating our objectives and encouraging others to follow our lead. GOP primary voters should seriously evaluate who among the contenders will be the best and the most persuasive advocate for America’s interests both domestically and internationally.