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The president knows that a foreign policy crisis -- especially one his critics have forewarned -- could derail his reelection campaign at any time. So, during the State of the Union address, he will try to give himself some political cover on a few issues in particular: Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
In the first debate focused on national security issues, GOP presidential candidates sparred over tactics to end Iran's nuclear program, fight in Afghanistan, and challenge China. Only, as they tried to undercut Obama, they repeatedly demonstrated how little, actually, their worldview differed from his.
Despite international pressure, Iran appears to be continuing its march toward getting a nuclear bomb. But Washington can contain and mitigate the consequences of Tehran's nuclear defiance, keeping an abhorrent outcome from becoming a catastrophic one.
Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay take stock of the Bush revolution in foreign affairs. The neocons have been running the show -- and we're all now paying the price.
Americans are not isolationist; they're uninterested. So foreign policy is neglected, presidents find it hard to lead, and the noisy few trump the quiet many.