Professor Arnold Kling has a good piece over at TCS Daily which notes that with the most recent airline threats in the UK, sectarian violence in Iraq, fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and threats coming from Iran, the folks in the US (UK and Israel) are more likely than not to push away from the advice of political elites and take on a populist stance towards foreign policy and national defense. Here's a look at Kling's interesting piece:
My sense is that popular opinion is likely to gravitate toward one of two positions.Now Kling does note that the rise of such populist attitudes amongst the US populace towards foreign policy/national defense is a danger because it leads to the rise of populist economic thinking amongst our leadership that will have an far worse impact on this nation. For me, I'm inclined for Populism(2) and from my read of things, I think that most Americans are inclined to favor politicians who have a populist attitude towards foreign policy/national security as long as they're committed to the complete destruction of our enemies. You only have to look at various leaders like George Washington, Andrew Jackson(some could say he was too populist), James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan to realize the appeal to a populist with regards to foreign policy and national security. Let's just hope such populist's follow the lead of Kennedy and Reagan and shy away from economic populism. All in all, the chief objective is to take down our enemies where they hide.
1. The Middle East is a hopeless cauldron of hatred. We should focus on homeland security, stay out of the Middle East, and have as little interaction with the Muslim world as possible; or
2. A major war is inevitable, so that we need to get ready for it. Nothing else will stop Iranian aggression, and nothing else will stifle the funding, sponsoring, and glorification of terrorists.
In 2008, I believe that either a Republican running on (1) as a platform or a Democrat running on (2) as a platform could win broad bipartisan support. However, my guess is that the Democrats are likely to come closer to representing (1) in 2008, and as of now my sense is that (1) is more popular than (2).
In my own thinking, I tend to vacillate between (1) and (2). The advantage of (2) is that it helps align our interests with the UK and Israel, which are not in a position to adopt (1). The UK, with its larger and more radical Muslim population, necessarily is affected by international Muslim belligerence. For Israel, staying out of the Middle East is not an option.
The main prediction from this essay is that we will see an outbreak of popular frustration in the next few years. I think that many people are tired of political spin machines, diplomatic "solutions," and fancy intellectual models of the world that fail in practice. They long for a leader who talks straight and who can make the plays work on the field the way they were designed to work on the chalkboard.