Ambinder compares the foreign policy proposals of Edwards and Romney and finds them to be strikingly similar. There is certainly something to this, since they have a number of similar items, and I will say more on this in a minute. If it is also true, as Hiatt argued earlier this month, that Obama and Romney are both robustly interventionist and largely on the same page in defining the American role in the world, that means that the relative “outsiders” or “reformers” in the “top tiers” of the two fields are all as firmly ensconced in the foreign policy consensus of Washington as the three establishmentarian goons are. That is not really surprising, but it is interesting to see it confirmed so clearly and in such a way that the consensus can even embrace that great “leftist” Edwards and the jingoes on the other side. If George Ajjan is right (he is) that Obama and Romney’s respective Foreign Affairs articles are demonstrations of embarrassing naivete and ignorance consistent with their general worldviews, this probably doesn’t speak well for Edwards, either, since he seems to be so close to Romney.
But there is actually something to one element of Edwards’ position that makes me think, bizarrely enough, that he may be slightly less horrible than the other five media-supported candidates. Edwards has explained his “bumper sticker” criticism with the following:
The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It’s a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political “frame,” it’s been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It’s even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents “weak on terror,” they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.
This makes a good deal of sense, since this is what the administration has done. It has taken a threat, which is quite real, and exploited it for maximum political gain in the most cynical and appalling ways. Romney seems to approve of this sort of fearmongering and has perfected his Anti-Jihadism For Dummies rhetoric by being able, in the best semi-educated fashion, to rattle off the names of foreign groups and countries about which he knows nothing. In practical terms, however, it isn’t clear what the big differences–besides, obviously, Iraq–between the foreign policies of the leading six candidates are. The biggest difference may be between the others and Giuliani, of course, since he doesn’t have a foreign policy that goes beyond talking about himself and what a wonderful leader he is.