Peggy Noonan is the only mainstream conservative columnist I have read to state the obvious about Santorum:

But his weakest spot is foreign policy, where he is not thoughtful but reflexively hard-line. It is one thing to say, as all candidates do and must, that America must be strong, well defended, ready for any challenge. It is another to be aggressive, to be too burly, to be all George W. Bush and no George H.W. Bush.

In fact, Santorum goes far beyond Bush in aggressiveness, so this description doesn’t quite capture how bad his foreign policy is. One of the themes of his failed re-election bid was that the Bush administration was being too soft and was refusing to call the enemy by its true name. For Santorum, of course, the enemy was “Islamic fascism,” and Iran was at the heart of it. After the 2006 midterms, Rumsfeld resigned and Gates took his place, and virtually everyone saw as a good and necessary change. Not Santorum. After Gates was confirmed, this is what he had to say:

The president’s nomination of Gates, and the Senate’s passive and overwhelming support of him, shows that our leaders have not understood the peril we are in and are not prepared to win the war that is being waged against us.

Santorum was one of two Senators to vote against Gates’ confirmation.

He was intensifying his hawkishness at the same time that even the Bush administration was beginning to pull back from some of the ideological enthusiasms and mistakes of its first five years. Santorum’s foreign policy might actually be more aggressive than that of Bush’s first term, if that is possible, which puts him among a very small minority in the Republican Party that believes that the problem with the Bush administration was that it was not aggressive and forceful enough. Romney represents a return to Bush-era policies, and that’s bad enough, but Santorum would represent a full-blown revival of the worst elements of the Bush administration’s policies and mentality during its early years.