Conventions are the seventh-inning stretch of presidential politics, a pause to consider the interminable prelude and the coming climax. Republicans gathering in Tampa face an unusual election in which they do not have a substantial advantage concerning the most presidential subject, foreign policy.
This is not because their nominee has weak foreign-policy credentials, which are not weaker than Barack Obama's were four years ago. And it is not because some of Mitt Romney's policy expostulations during the nominating process -- e.g., "We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban" -- promise a limitless elongation of an 11-year exercise in mission creep that the public is sensibly eager to liquidate. And it is not because there are no ominous potentialities: Both Romney and Obama seem committed to a third regional war if, as is highly probable, Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons. (Israel could make foreign policy central in the U.S. campaign by striking Iran.) And it is not because the world has become tranquil -- although the world, which Romney calls "dangerous, destructive, chaotic," is less so than at any time since the 1920s, measured by the likelihood of people dying from organized violence.