Note to Sen. John McCain and other Republicans who love to talk about foreign policy: The election is over. The moment for partisanship, if there ever is one when foreign policy is the topic, has passed. We used to say, “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” And we believed it. Now is the time to focus on answers and solutions, if there are any, to the vexing issues we confront in a complicated and turbulent world.
Yet even yesterday, John McCain, perhaps the most senior Republican voice on foreign policy, continued to rant against the president. Some Republicans seem to view the entire world through the lens of partisan disagreement. Isn’t the Benghazi tragedy a cover-up for something? Did the turmoil in Gaza erupt right after the election because the president somehow delayed the crisis there? It is all kind of nuts, maybe a last stage in Republican grief or denial that hopefully will pass soon.
We all acknowledge that many regions of the world really are a mess, especially the Middle East. Syria’s civil war is a continuing humanitarian disaster. Hamas is raining rockets down on Israel, and experiencing the predictable and appropriate response. Iran is marching forward with its nuclear enrichment process, and getting awfully close to whatever red lines have been drawn.
Simply stating that we need to get the Middle East peace process back on track is too vapid an answer. While I do like the idea of sending Bill Clinton back to the region to see if the talks can be revived, the moment simply may not be propitious for a broader agreement. A ceasefire to the current conflict is welcome, but there are deep-seated hostilities that need to be resolved before a two-state solution is realistic. And it is not yet clear what role Egypt will play. Public rhetoric aside, President Mohamed Morsi privately may be seeking a more moderate path between Hamas and Israel. With appropriate encouragement Egypt could join Turkey as a moderate, democratic, Islamic nation helping us thread the needle in this tortured region. This is where real diplomacy is needed, not theatrics by disappointed Republicans trying to unearth nonexistent cover-ups in the tragedy of Benghazi.