Saturday, October 8, 2011

In G.O.P. Race, Foreign Policy Is a Footnote

Herman Cain suggested that Israel’s conservative prime minister would be open to allowing Palestinians right of return to the lands they fled in what is now Israel. Gov. Rick Perry suggested it was possible that American troops could be sent to Mexico if drug violence there got worse. And former Senator Rick Santorum offered that the United States should engage with the ousted Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf — now living in self-exile in London — to respond to the threat of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Many foreign policy experts regard such proposals as head-scratchers, at best, and the Republican presidential candidates have been prone to occasional blunders and posturing, as well, when delving into international affairs — that is, when they have had anything to say about the topic at all. It has often been an afterthought in the campaign — in the CNN/Tea Party debate last month, it was the second-to-last question, before the one about whether the candidates would plant vegetable gardens or put in horseshoe pits at the White House. In an election in which the economy is the overriding focus, neither candidates nor voters bring it up much on the stump.