The dust has settled. Now, Republicans need to ask what their foreign policy should be after being muddled by Mitt Romney's oscillating maneuvering. It stands now to be more confused, or worse, reflexively opposed to President Barack Obama's policy. Instead, a Republican vision should embrace six elements, for the good of the country and party, in that order.
First, comity and compromise are essential. Republican Gov. Chris Christie embraced Obama's visit to New Jersey following superstorm Sandy. But consider how Christie's earlier words at the Republican National Convention apply to foreign policy: "We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America … achieve principled compromise and get results." Similarly, I have worked for Republicans Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Kristol, Jesse Helms and Condoleezza Rice but have experienced bipartisan compromise eliciting United Nations reforms, moving human trafficking from an unknown to a central issue and shining a spotlight on repression in China.
Next, China should be the very top priority — not a veritably intransigent Russia (as Romney suggested), not Iraq and not a "global war" on terrorism. Republicans should back Obama's "Asia pivot," just as Obama, without acknowledgment, built upon President George W. Bush's deepening of Asian democratic alliances as a hedge against China. Romney stressed China's currency manipulation. The U.S. must go even further to question how much of a partner China's autocracy can be when it represses dissenters, worshippers and Uighur and Tibetan minorities, and when it fails to act like a stakeholder in peace in the U.N. Security Council.