Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty attempted to separate himself from his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls on Tuesday in a speech that laid out an active and aggressive foreign policy vision.
Pawlenty, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, criticised some in his party who have tended toward a more isolationist stance, particularly when it comes to the war in Afghanistan.
"America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal," Pawlenty said. "It does not need a second one."
While Pawlenty named no names, the targets of his comments were clear: former governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Jon Huntsman of Utah. Huntsman, in particular, has come out in favour of a more rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan than the one that President Barack Obama laid out last week.
Romney caused some to wonder whether he was advocating a more isolationist stance two weeks ago when he said in a presidential debate that the Afghan war shows that the U.S. "cannot fight another nation's war of independence." His campaign has since rejected the idea that he has moved toward isolationism.
Pawlenty is wasting no time, however, in trying to cast himself as the leading foreign policy hawk among the top-tier presidential candidates. Even putting aside his stance on Afghanistan, he is going further than many of his Republican rivals have been prepared to go.
In his speech, Pawlenty struck an aggressive tone about the U.S. role in the international community.
He suggested that the United States should push for regime change in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including Libya and Syria, and that it should urge allies such as Saudi Arabia to improve their treatment of religious minorities and women.
(In association with The Washington Post. For more log on to www.washingtonpost.com)