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The Tea Party's risky foreign-policy dilemma
The populist protesters walk in lockstep on small government demands, but seem lost on what to do overseas. Will that limit the Tea Party's power?
When it comes to foreign policy, some Tea Partiers follow Sarah Palin's hawkish approach, some favor isolationism, and others just don't seem to care at all.
When it comes to foreign policy, some Tea Partiers follow Sarah Palin's hawkish approach, some favor isolationism, and others just don't seem to care at all.
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he Tea Party movement has been "the most controversial and dramatic development in American politics in many years," says Walter Russell Mead at Foreign Affairs, uniting conservatives and independents behind the cause of reducing the role of government in American life. But Tea Partiers are divided on foreign policy, Mead says, with some embracing the isolationism of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and others backing Sarah Palin's belief that the U.S. should fight the war on terror globally. Can the Tea Party become a lasting force in politics without a clear position on foreign policy?

With no international vision, the Tea Party will fade: The Tea Party's problem is not that it is divided between its "Palinite" and "Paulite" wings, says Daniel W. Drezner at Foreign Policy. The real issue is that Tea Partiers "don't care about foreign policy." That leaves a big hole in the Tea Party's potential influence. In 10 years we'll remember it like Ross Perot's Reform Party — as "a brief, interesting but in the end unstable collection of political oddities."
"Tea Partied out"

Foreign policy will not kill the Tea Party: Okay, so "foreign policy isn't what truly animates the Tea Party," says Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic, but that doesn't mean the movement is "on its way out." As fiscal conservatives, Tea Partiers probably wouldn't mind wrapping things up in Afghanistan, avoiding intervention in Libya, reducing defense spending, and pulling the plug on nation building. They're not as divided on foreign policy as you might think.
"Paulites vs. Palinites"

Even with the split, Tea Party populism has an impact: Yes, the Tea Party is divided on foreign policy, says Donald Douglas at American Power, but so is the broader conservative movement. The Palinites appear to have the edge in this era of deep U.S. involvement abroad. But "regardless of how the immediate Tea Party splits play out in the short run," the populism that has fueled the Tea Party's rise will have a "lasting impact" on America's relations with the rest of the world.
"Tea Party populism and America's international relations"

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