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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

A Republican Looks at Foreign Policy

George HW Bush in 1988.

Recently it was suggested that presidential primaries drive Republican and Democratic hopefuls into making a mess of foreign policy: Republicans emphasize their suspicions about arms control agreements with the Soviets; Democrats rail against new weapons systems and any resort to the use of force to back up diplomacy. This commentary—an editorial in The Washington Post—concluded that the process of the primaries exacts a high cost in American foreign policy, and that it will not be easy for the next president to reclaim a middle ground laid waste by excessive partisan rhetoric.

But the middle can be variously defined. What will matter is how a new administration deals with the core issues of American security policy: arms control and national defense, the use of force, including U.S. military forces, abroad. Even these issues must first be addressed in the broad historical context of those enduring postwar commitments and

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