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Bobby Jindal sees an opening on foreign policy

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Philip Klein,Barack Obama,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Campaigns,Bobby Jindal,ISIS

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is far behind early on in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes, registering in the low single digits in most polls — and even lagging behind potential Republican rivals in his home state, where he remains unpopular. But Jindal may just be seeing a potential opening on foreign policy.

One of the typical grounds of contention in presidential primaries is whether to choose a governor, who has executive experience but little background on foreign policy, or a Senator, who typically has more grounding in foreign policy but who doesn't have any executive experience.

Another dividing line in the upcoming election is where candidates stand on how much of a role the United States should be playing to try to influence world events. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., most notably, has staked out non-interventionist ground. But at least one recent poll has showed that as foreign policy crises mount, Republican voters are starting to move back to wanting more U.S. action abroad.

On Tuesday, Jindal released a statement blasting President Obama's weakness on foreign policy, following what has been presumed to be a second beheading of an American journalist by ISIS.

Jindal said:

The President said last week that his Administration currently has no strategy to deal with ISIS. There is no need to even comment on that, it speaks for itself.

I have no doubt about the President’s sorrow over the two murders of American citizens by ISIS. I am certain that this grieves him deeply. And while grieving is important, it is no substitute for a strategy.

Let’s speak very plainly and directly about this — The Obama Administration does not have a strategy at all. It’s not that we have a flawed foreign policy; we don’t have a foreign policy.

The President appears to simply careen from international crisis to international crisis, with no discernable governing principles.

The world is safest when America is strongest. A weak America invites chaos. And we are seeing exactly that on the world stage right now.

Peace through strength is not a slogan. It is a truth. We can have peace through strength, or we can have chaos and war through weakness.

Though it makes a much different argument than Paul's recent op-ed blaming interventionists for the growth of ISIS, both arguments are similar in that they offer criticism, but neither offer a strategy for dealing with ISIS.

It's one thing to speak in terms of general principles now, but if Jindal is going to separate himself from the pack, it's going to be as somebody who can offer a more thoughtful critique and articulate a foreign policy strategy that goes beyond red meat attacks on Obama's weakness.

On this front, Jindal may have a leg up on other governors who may run in 2016, such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker or New Jersey's Chris Christie. Walker is currently in a tough reelection fight and thus doesn't have much time to start studying foreign policy, while Christie, as I've written before, tends to lean on his sheer force of personality and wing it when discussing issues such as foreign policy.

Jindal has a leg up on other governors, because he served in Congress from 2005 to 2008, when national security debates, especially on Iraq, were at center stage. He also has a reputation, at least on domestic policy, for being a wonk who loves to delve into details. So if he commits himself to seriously studying and thinking about foreign policy, it could create an opening for him that didn't exist even a few months ago.

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