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The 2012 Horse Whisperers

It’s officially summer, and the GOP presidential campaign is heating up. Tim Pawlenty is planning more stumping in Iowa, Michele Bachmann has now officially entered the race, and multiple potential candidates are waiting in the wings — preparing to enter the fray if the leading contenders stumble. And though all the pundits have proclaimed that ...

It's officially summer, and the GOP presidential campaign is heating up. Tim Pawlenty is planning more stumping in Iowa, Michele Bachmann has now officially entered the race, and multiple potential candidates are waiting in the wings -- preparing to enter the fray if the leading contenders stumble. And though all the pundits have proclaimed that this election will be dominated by talk of the economy and jobs, there has been a surprising amount of foreign-policy chatter in the first few months -- even though the major Republican candidates are still forming their brain trusts and their foreign-policy identities.

So who's whispering in the ear of the front-runners? Who's advising them of the sound position to take for an electorate both war weary and yet concerned about national security? Of the four main candidates right now, only Jon Huntsman can creditably claim to be a foreign-policy expert -- and he's looking like a realist. Mitt Romney is trying to balance his talk of renewed American primacy with his realization that the country is both tired of unlimited interventions and cash-strapped. Pawlenty is staking out his ground as a hawk but doesn't want to be tagged with the neoconservative label. Bachmann is also sounding a hawkish note, taking the mantle from Sarah Palin in pushing the Tea Party's isolationist impulses toward an aggressive national security agenda.

It’s officially summer, and the GOP presidential campaign is heating up. Tim Pawlenty is planning more stumping in Iowa, Michele Bachmann has now officially entered the race, and multiple potential candidates are waiting in the wings — preparing to enter the fray if the leading contenders stumble. And though all the pundits have proclaimed that this election will be dominated by talk of the economy and jobs, there has been a surprising amount of foreign-policy chatter in the first few months — even though the major Republican candidates are still forming their brain trusts and their foreign-policy identities.

So who’s whispering in the ear of the front-runners? Who’s advising them of the sound position to take for an electorate both war weary and yet concerned about national security? Of the four main candidates right now, only Jon Huntsman can creditably claim to be a foreign-policy expert — and he’s looking like a realist. Mitt Romney is trying to balance his talk of renewed American primacy with his realization that the country is both tired of unlimited interventions and cash-strapped. Pawlenty is staking out his ground as a hawk but doesn’t want to be tagged with the neoconservative label. Bachmann is also sounding a hawkish note, taking the mantle from Sarah Palin in pushing the Tea Party’s isolationist impulses toward an aggressive national security agenda.

Read the rest of The 2012 Horse Whisperers here:

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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