Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty was once seen as the most viable alternative to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. Now that there are other, more well-known candidates vying for that mantle, Pawlenty is struggling to remain relevant in these early days of the primary season. And he’s trying to burnish his public image, in part, by adopting what is easily the most hawkish foreign policy platform in the campaign, promising an aggressive use of U.S. economic and military power to confront America’s enemies and promote democracy around the world.
Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, is the only candidate in the race who has spent considerable time talking about America’s wars. Romney, who is focusing exclusively on the economy, has said only that “Our troops shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation.” Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, whose candidacy is seen as especially threatening to Pawlenty, has criticized President Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya but condemned the military operation there as superfluous. Pawlenty, by contrast, has accused Obama of being too timid in the Arab world, calling openly for regime change not only in Libya but in Iran and Syria as well.