Skip to comments.America, the Sequel : A Summary of Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy
Posted on 10/09/2012 7:02:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
"I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy." So said Governor Mitt Romney in a fine foreign-policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday. The sentiment encapsulates both the substantive promise and the political peril of Mr. Romney's alternative to President Obama's foundering foreign policy. Because the Obama campaign has located the vast reserves of chutzpah required to paint Romney's foreign-policy team as novices, and because the media has let them get away with it, Romney had to accomplish many things at once in a major address that sets the stage for a pair of debates that will feature questions on foreign policy.
Before anything else, Romney had to look and sound the part of the commander-in-chief --- to evince the confidence, fluency, and resolve that Americans seek in the leader who will engage our friends, reckon with our adversaries, and appear in their television sets to relay momentous news from the Oval Office. The videotape shows that Romney, in one of his strongest deliveries yet, did just that, convincingly closing the gravitas gap enjoyed by the sitting head of state.
He had to acknowledge the Obama administration’s biggest foreign-policy accomplishment --- its elimination of Osama bin Laden --- while clearly demarking the limits of that accomplishment. Romney succeeded here as well, especially by plainly stating the bitter truth that, despite the administration’s dead-horse boasts about al-Qaeda, “The attack on our consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on September 11, 2001.”
He had to make foreign policy — and the choice between foreign policies — relevant to the average voter. The economy is, justifiably, front and center at the kitchen tables of America, but Romney did yeoman’s work, for example, in repeatedly emphasizing the importance of free trade at the nexus of foreign and economic policy, and rightly warned that by neglecting a dangerous world we invite its danger to our doorstep.
Which brings us to Romney’s most thorny task: offering a contrast with the president’s approach to foreign affairs by articulating a broad strategic vision, as well as a specific set of policy actions, while not extending partisan politics beyond our borders or delving too deeply into specifics that could undermine U.S. diplomacy now or tie a Romney administration’s hands later. Here again, we believe Governor Romney largely succeeded.
On Iran, Romney committed to both a tightening of the current sanctions regime and a display of hard power by permanently returning aircraft-carrier battle groups to the region.
On Egypt and Libya, he made clear that America will do whatever it can to support the building of free institutions and free people, but that our aid will come with hard-and-fast conditions, and that we will maintain a free (and strong) hand in dealing with terrorists who conspire to kill Americans from inside their borders.
On Afghanistan, Romney made the case that a hasty and politically motivated withdrawal only increases the likelihood that the region will revert to its status as a haven for barbarians and murderers, and a base of operations in the jihadists’ never-ending war against the West.
On Israel, Romney promised an end to the unacknowledged drift of Washington away from Jerusalem that has occurred under this administration, and committed to America’s support of Israel’s moral right and material ability to defend itself — preconditions not just to the successful deterrence of our mutual adversaries in the region, but to the possibility of a free and peaceful Palestinian state.
Above all, Romney recommitted to the age-old maxim that guided the Roman Republic and Ronald Reagan alike to successful foreign policies: Si vis pacem, para bellum. Governor Romney understands that “peace through strength” requires a preponderance of American power abroad. President Obama believes that American power abroad is by its very nature provocative and belligerent. The killing of bin Laden notwithstanding, President Obama believes in fostering international cooperation through American self-effacement, and in speeches around the world has highlighted the U.S.’s alleged shortcomings. Governor Romney understands that the thirst among people of good will is for not less, but more America. He knows that in East Asia there is great fear of an unchecked China with increasing leverage over the United States; that in the Middle East, where decent peoples hold out hope for the Arab Spring’s redemption, questions about America’s staying power cause as much trepidation as questions about the region’s capacity for reform.
In so many theaters, the present administration’s policy has been opaque and withdrawn, rudderless and at odds with itself. By contrast, if Romney’s vision sounds insufficiently granular and nuanced for the tastes of the left-of-center Foggy Bottom class, as the early punditry seems to suggest, perhaps that’s because it counts on much the same basic principles that produced the first American Century to vouchsafe a sequel. Romney’s is a case for clarity, for active and intelligent engagement in a dangerous world, for an America that is a strong ally, a formidable foe, and an unrepentant force for good in the world.
If Romney is elected he is going to have to acknowledge the United States can no longer afford to continue intervening militarily in the affairs of countries around the the globe at the whim of the President. Our decision to deindustrialize during the 1990’s and 2000’s, while engaging in a debt funded spending spree, has gutted the economic backbone of the country. Today’s no growth economy, with unsustainable deficit spending, will force us to downsize the military and reorient it from global nation building to defending the homeland in this hemisphere.
For the past 60 years we’ve relieved the taxpayers of Western Europe, Japan, and Korea from most of the cost of defending their nations at the cost of trillion of dollars to the US taxpayer. For the past 20 years we’ve
maintained a large and expensive military presence in the Middle East for which we have little to show other than wasted lives and billions of dollars thrown away. While our attention was distracted overseas we allowed millions of illegal immigrants to invade across the southern border and occupy the homeland, taking jobs from citizens and driving up the cost of government services. We neglected the defense of our nation in order to spread democracy around the world.
The founders of our nation warned us against “foreign adventures”. Circumstances now dictate we heed the warning. Bring the troops home from around the world. If the people of Japan, Korea, and Western Europe choose not to defend themselves from external threats, so be it.
I suspect we will be pleasantly surprised to find after we withdraw our forces that China and Russia do not have unlimited resources. Economic and geopolitical realities will limit their ability to project force just as our nation building efforts have been thwarted. In addition they will find dealing with radical Islam directly, instead of the US providing the blood and guns, will be a daunting challenge. Meanwhile, if we redirect our resources to simply defending our borders, rebuilding our economy, and protecting individual liberty at home we will be a much happier, prosperous and safer people.
I hope Romney understands that Assad while an unsavory character may be preferable to what could emerge from rebel forces as a replacement.
sounds good - but the fact is that wars may be necessary to protect the US from dangerous attacks of an enemy which may operate out of another country.
We don't want to invite them to make the streets of America the new battlefield, IMO.
“sounds good - but the fact is that wars may be necessary to protect the US from dangerous attacks of an enemy which may operate out of another country.”
I agree. However we wasted over 50,000 lives in Vietnam and untold billions of dollars to see the country become communist. We now have considerable trade with communist Vietnam, despite having spent billions trying to prevent it from being communist.
Same thing with Iraq. Bush claimed there were weapons of mass destruction which were and imminent threat to the homeland. Not true. Then he changed the mission to converting Iraq to democracy. After years of blood and billions of money Iraq today is a satellite of Iran. What did we accomplish but upset the existing strategic balance of power where a strong Iraq acted as a counterweight to Iranian dreams of expansion?
What did we accomplish in Bosnia/Kosovo? Somalia? Libya? Obama sent military advisers and special forces troops to Uganda. For what purpose? Are we really safer walking down the street in our hometowns because of these arbitrary commitments of the military by the President?
The founders were very clear in requiring a Declaration of War by Congress before committing troops. They rightly did not want the President to make the decision on his own without a public debate and the approval of the nation that must make the sacrifice in blood and money to prosecute the war. Since WWII, we’ve ignored the Constitutional requirement and wasted blood and money for no increase in the safety of the homeland.
What the neocons don’t understand is there are natural rivalries around the world that will act as brakes on our potential enemies, if they are allowed to play out. India is a counterweight to China and Pakistan. Vietnam, Japan, and Korea are also natural adversaries of China. Remove American troops from the region and the natural rivalries in the region will ameliorate threats to the US.
The threat of our real and potential enemies invading the US mainland today with troops is very low. The biggest threat to the lives of American citizens from Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, or Iran is an attack with nuclear weapons. Yet we choose not to build a missile defense system to thwart such an attack and we continuously reduce the offensive missiles required to support the nuclear deterrence strategy which allows those potential attackers to know they will be annihilated should they attack us. Troops on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan do little to prevent an action against us by these adversaries.
China is actively engaging in aggressive economic warfare with the US and has done so for over two decades. Yet we do nothing to defend our nation and the American worker. We give China preferential trade status. We sent investment dollars to build factories in China to compete with US factories. We ignore overt theft of intellectual property, cyberattacks, and mercantilist currency manipulation. We allow China to subsidize its exports to the detriment of companies employing thousands of US workers at home.
Likewise, Mexico and Central American countries are unloading surplus populations by encouraging illegal emigration to the US. Mexico openly provides assistance to its citizens trying to cross the border and assists them once they have relocated into the US. Millions have invaded and settled comfortably inside the US consuming social services paid for by the US taxpayer, taking jobs from citizens, engaging in criminal activity, and killing American citizens. More American citizens are killed every year by illegals committing criminal acts or causing vehicle accidents than were killed on 9/11 by Al Qaeda, yet we take no action to stop the invasion. Wars against peasants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Uganda, Bosnia/Kosovo, or Libya do nothing stop either the very real human invasion by Mexico or the economic warfare of China.
Turning to the real threat of Al Qaeda and radical Islam, where are we after 10 years of troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan? Osama bin Lauden is dead. Tens of thousands of miserable peasants in those countries are dead as well as a few thousand actual Al Qaeda terrorists who could have been killed with aggressive take no prisoner attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan over a few months (remember Osama was hiding out in Pakistan which we did not invade) after 9/11. Have the trillions of borrowed money and thousands of dead and wounded US soldiers ended the threat from Islamic terrorists? No. In fact the Islamic radicals are energized and taking control of once allied countries (Egypt an Libya for example) demonstrating the use of force is not always effective. Why has it not been effective? The reason is we did not cut off the funding from Saudi Arabia and Iran of terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists. Had we cut off the funding, by reading the riot act to the Saudi government and threatening Iran with annihilation, the threat of violence against American citizens at home would be greatly diminished because the terrorists would not have the resources to launch attacks. Sorry I don’t feel safer on the streets of America because we have boots on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq when the Saudi’s are funding the immigration of millions of Muslims to the US, and the construction of thousands of mosques across the country where radical Imams preach hatred. Not to mention the Saudi funded prison outreach working to convert Black prisoner to radical Islam. Certainly the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq did nothing to prevent over 40 Americans from being casualties on American soil at Fort Hood nor did it prevent the US ambassador from being killed in Libya this year.
We have very real and immediate threats to the homeland in the form of illegal immigration, mercantilist trade policies, the Saudi funded spread of Islam inside the country, and the growth of the nuclear arsenals of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Troops stationed in Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan do little nothing to protect main street from these real threats.
Every perceived and real threat after WWII which resulted in the President arbitrarily committing troops has been of a nature that would have permitted time for the Constitutional requirement of a formal declaration of war to have preceded the commitment of troops. The speed with which Congress can react in the face of a real threat was demonstrated in 1941 when Franklin Roosevelt obtained a formal declaration of war against Japan within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Why then should Lyndon Johnson have been able to commit troops to Vietnam for years without a formal declaration of war or George W. Bush commit troops and funds to Iraq without a formal declaration of war? Had we followed the Constitution, it is very likely Johnson would not have been able to secure enough public support for a declaration of war against Vietnam, a country with no ability to prosecute a war on the homeland. Likewise, after 9/11 George W. Bush very likely would have secured a formal declaration of war against Al Qaeda and Afghanistan had he asked for one. If Congress had voted on a formal declaration of war against Iraq in 2002 instead of an “authorization to use force”, it is highly likely the declaration would not have been approved and we would have avoided the loss of life and resources this failed entanglement cost the nation.
It is time to return to the requirements of the Constitution with respect to committing the nation’s military to war. I can accept that in today’s world the President needs to be able to respond immediately to an overt attack on the homeland or American forces outside our borders. However, except for the most extreme circumstances, it should be possible for Congress to assemble, debate the need to commit the nation to war, and authorize the use of armed forces in battle through a formal declaration. With Congress and the President united in committing the nation and its people to war, the people can then be asked legitimately to sacrifice both blood and the extra taxes required to support the engagement.