What’s interesting about today’s foreign-policy debates is the disconnection between the country’s national leaders and the populace at large. The Republican Party is dominated by a neoconservative sensibility that favors widespread American involvement in overseas places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iran, while the Democratic Party is influenced heavily by a Wilsonian sensibility of moral imperative that often leads to the same interventionist advocacy, though sometimes for different reasons. And yet public-opinion surveys show that the American people harbor strong reservations about such interventionist vigor of either stripe. . . .It is baffling to me that in America, democracy has so little impact on our foreign policy. It seems to be under the control of an elite that is very much out of touch with ordinary voters. Possibly the reaction against Bush's wars helped bring Democrats back into power from 2006 on, but Republicans have reacted by becoming even more belligerent, and Democrats seem afraid to cut military spending or rein in the drones from fear of being called weak.
Thus, it sometimes seems as if America is on autopilot as it moves haltingly but with seemingly inexorable force toward ever-greater involvement in the world even as discomfort increases within the electorate.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Foreign Policy and American Voters