Rising to a New Generation of Global Challenges

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pauses while speaking at a campaign rally in Newport News, Virginia November 4, 2012. Brian Snyder / Reuters


Less than six years after 9/11, Washington is as divided and conflicted over foreign policy as it has been at any point in the last 50 years. Senator Arthur Vandenberg once famously declared that "politics stops at the water's edge"; today, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee declares that our major political parties should carry out two separate foreign policies. The Senate unanimously confirmed General David Petraeus, who pledged to implement a new strategy, as the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Yet just weeks later, the Senate began crafting legislation specifically designed to stop that new strategy. More broadly, lines have been drawn between those labeled "realists" and those labeled "neoconservatives." Yet these terms mean little when even the most committed neoconservative recognizes that any successful policy must be grounded in reality and even the most hardened realist admits that much of the United States' power and influence stems from its values and ideals.

In the midst of these divisions, the American people—and many others around the world—have increasing doubts about the United States' direction and role in the world. Indeed, it seems that concern about Washington's divisiveness and capability to meet today's challenges is the one thing that unites us all. We need new thinking on foreign policy and an overarching strategy that can unite the United States and its allies—not around a particular political camp or foreign policy school but around a shared understanding of how to meet a new generation of challenges.


Today's challenges are daunting. They include the conflict in Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban, and global terrorist networks made even more menacing by the threat of nuclear proliferation. While Iran's leaders relentlessly pursue nuclear weapons capabilities and spout genocidal threats against Israel, the world largely stands silent, unable to agree on effective sanctions even as each day the danger grows. Genocide ravages Darfur even as the world stands frozen. In Latin America, leaders

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