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Politico: Reelecting the War on Terror

Author: Matthew Stevenson
November 5, 2012


This is the first presidential election since 1928 that features candidates with no military experience. Matthew Stevenson explores the effect this has on foreign policy.

About the only thing assured on this Election Day is that the War on Terror will win reelection.

Given that the Unites States is fighting wars, hot and cold, from Libya to Pakistan, the irony of the 2012 election is that it is the first since Herbert Hoover ran against Al Smith in 1928 to feature candidates with no military experience. Does that explain why the candidates spend so much time buffing up their images in the reflected glow of military brass or why the foreign policy debate sounded like the Amen Corner?

The 2012 election has the feel of a race in which it would be sacrilegious to question the military, especially given that the Obama reelection campaign loves instant replaying the killing of Osama bin Laden. About the only disagreement among the candidates is over security instructions given to the Benghazi Consulate detail. Each has his hand on the hair trigger aimed at Iran.

The surge of Hurricane Sandy has washed the race clean of foreign policy, although in the debates neither candidate questioned the other's assumptions over Syrian intervention, support for Israel, disdain for China's monetary policies or that the European Union should sleep in the Greek bed that it made.

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