The Washington Times - June 28, 2011, 08:19AM

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in a speech Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, plans to lay out his strategic vision for the nation’s involvement in the Middle East, calling on his fellow Republicans not to shrink away from what he sees as the nation’s commitments in the region.

Mr. Pawlenty also plans to make the case that President Obama has blown his response to the so-called “Arab Spring,” arguing that the Democratic uprisings and conflicts in the region have happened in spite of, not because of, the president’s foreign policy.


“President Obama has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to these events,” Mr. Pawlenty says in speech excerpts. “He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles.”

On the Republican party’s approach to foreign policy, Mr. Pawlenty plans to say the GOP would be wrong “to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world.”

“History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item,” he says. “America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal; it does not need a second one.”

Voter anxiety and frustration against federal spending has created some tension within Republican ranks over whether the U.S. is getting the best bang for the buck from the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and its participation in NATO efforts in Libya.

The excerpts from the speech echo the sentiments of Sen. John McCain, the party’s 2008 nominee, and other Republicans, who have recently pushed back against what they see as a dangerous, isolationist strand of the GOP. The comments, meanwhile, will put him at odds with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has suggested its time to rethink the military effort in Afghanistan, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who favors a rapid withdrawal of troops from the country.