NEW YORK – Four years ago, Republicans condemned nation-building, distrusted China and argued on behalf of Chechen civilians. What a difference a new convention makes.
In their new party platform Republicans have abandoned several major foreign policy points from 2000; four years of political reality have tempered others.
China was dealt with firmly in the 2000 platform, which declared that "China is a strategic competitor of the United States, not a strategic partner," and said that China would not be the center of the administration's Asia policy.
But in the last four years, China became an essential player in nuclear talks with North Korea while the Chinese economic boom created new markets for U.S. companies.
The new platform has a far more subdued approach, criticizing China's military build-up but praising its new-found prosperity.
The 2000 Republicans also lambasted Russia's actions in Chechnya, accusing it of "state-sponsored brutality" and "the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians" in a then year-old war. Despite four more years of intense fighting, Chechnya isn't mentioned in 2004's section on Russia, which has become a strategic ally against militant Muslim groups in Asia.
"We live in a much different world than we did four years ago," said Ginny Wolfe, speaking for the platform committee.
Those changes have more to do with America's shifting alliances than they do with changes in Russia or China, said John Pike, director of defense think-tank Globalsecurity.org.
"It's basically: 'If you sign up for the global war on terrorism we're not too worried about what else you do,'" said Pike, an independent analyst whose wife works for the Kerry campaign.
Criticism was also levied in 2000 against nation-building in Somalia and Haiti, arguing that those missions were indicative of a pattern of arrogance in diplomacy that alienated U.S. allies.
But now that the Bush administration has found itself nation-building in Iraq after deposing Saddam Hussein, the platform has gone silent on the issue.