During the 1990s "There was actually a deliberate search for an enemy because they felt that the Republican Party didn't do as well" when foreign policy wasn't on the issue agenda.
As Kevin Drum notes this started out with an overplayed "crisis" with China and the airplane, but after 9/11 settled comfortably in the PANC vision for "transforming" the Middle East via bombing, shooting, and torturing (and profiting). I still think Cheney's behavior at the Hu's visit was more hubris than absent-mindedness from Bag-o-Hammers Dick.
And there voluntary war on the "Iraq-o-terrst" sure has worked hasn't it?
Terror attacks and kidnappings worldwide exceeded 10,000 for the first time last year, propelled in part by a surge in Iraq, according to government figures to be released soon.