PJ O'Rourke mentioned at the NH Taxpayer Barbeque I attended that he was going to write about the event, and I've been waiting for it. It is now up. He focuses on his discovery that the Tea Party - or this one, at least - doesn't seem to have a coherent foreign policy. He has a solid point here. The Tea Party is focusing on reducing spending and getting corrupt politicians out. A PJ notes, foreign policy ideas are described in vague, rather cliched terms: defending America's interests, respect for the military, that sort of thing.
I'm not certain that's entirely a problem. A group that focuses broadly on fiscal restraint and government transparency, giving guest but not mainstage attention to other postliberal issues, isn't necessarily a bad thing. A small observation from history.
Nations with rising economies don't tend to get attacked. They get attacked when they are declining. While this is hardly universal, there's a lot of evidence for it. One would expect that an attacking nation would measure opponents in more absolute terms - that a country with 10x wealth would be a harder target than one with 5x wealth, regardless of whether the 10x is currently ebbing or flowing. But in fact that doesn't seem to be the majority case. Groups or nations on the rise convince themselves that their strategic advantages, however few, will overwhelm a stronger opponent. This has certainly been the attitude of jihadists toward America, of Bolsheviks toward Czarist might, of WWII Germany toward Europe and Russia or Japan toward China and the US. These Davids feel they can defeat Goliath - and sometimes they do. 9/11 was hatched while the US was in recession and carried out just as recession started to recede. Gulf War I, stemming from Saddam's bet that he could get away with attacking Kuwait unmolested, occurred during the previous recession. Argentina took the Falklands in defiance of a much more powerful UK because it calculated that the British wouldn't have the stomach to fight back. The North Vietnamese launched a suicidal Tet offensive and lost, and yet apparently calculated correctly that the Americans would find even the victory would be too expensive.
Even on an individual level, fighters will tell you that there is always one person who really wants to fight and one who doesn't in any combat, and the former will prevail. In sport fighting this is less true because anything with rules favors the superior athlete, but even there one can see insane determination overwhelming a better opponent - which is why in all sports the coaching aspect that provides motivation is crucial. The more controlled and genteel the sport, the more the motivation is applied to the preparation phase...
Wait, I'm getting distracted here. Respect for the military follows similar lines. The psychological aspect, in and of itself, seems to provide a warning to would-be attackers. In less-visible ways, a country's support for its businesses, schools, churches, or any other institution is a part of its effectiveness.
It's not all attitude, of course. Eventually nations or institutions are called on to back up their claims, and you'd better have something more than a "by golly, we can lick 'em" attitude. But it bears mentioning that economic recovery and respect for the military have their own deterrent effect, especially on primitive attackers. Fewer attacks, whether military or economic, means fewer foreigh policy problems to solve.