There is little use in trying to make the 2012 presidential campaign a referendum on foreign policy. Sorry, my friends in international relations; I know your phones aren’t exactly ringing. Academics and wonks can try to get the candidates to focus on Afghanistan, Iran, or the Pentagon’s budget, but those issues have little traction. It’s a bit humbling for many in the field who pine for relevance amid long discussions about Medicare and the economy. It was so easy to be needed when John McCain ran for president.
We’ve accepted a collective amnesia about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the focus on domestic issues has not only silenced most national security discussions; it has also left service members by the wayside. What was lacking in last week’s GOP convention in Tampa was a discussion of, or even a reference to, the men and women who fought these wars. Not even a thank you. This isn’t mere quibbling over what wasn’t said. Everyone knows that politicians can be effusive, to the point of sounding a little phony, when talking about the military. What is remarkable is that there wasn’t even an attempt to act the part.