Romney’s foreign policy flawed

Published 11:09 am Friday, August 31, 2012

Americans hear very little about foreign policy these days, even though we remain at war in Afghanistan and the world remains a dangerous place.

But the Romney foreign policy agenda was on center stage in the Republican convention this week with senator and ex-presidential candidate John McCain speaking on foreign policy and ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice outlining the Romney foreign policy fundamentals.

Governor Romney has not been very specific on his foreign policy convictions before these speeches, with smatterings of his ideas previously doled out by his senior foreign policy advisers, and ex-Bush advisors, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams.

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Abrams has previously argued that it is time for Congress to authorize the use of force against Iran (as was done for Iraq) and has further argued a U.S. attack against Iran is superior to Israel attacking Iran.

Bolton has suggested that the U.S. “free” Israel to attack Iran, foregoing the current discussions for a negotiated resolution with Iran.

We do know directly from Mr. Romney that he views Russia as our pre-eminent foe, that he might authorize a trade war with China, and that he has done some sabre rattling towards Iran recently.

So when Senator McCain took his prime time opportunity we heard for the first time the possible Romney strategy for foreign policy.

First McCain explained that the Obama administration foreign policy has weakened America with our allies, and diminished our standing around the world. McCain believes we should not be leaving Afghanistan in 2014, we should strongly consider military actions against Syria and Iran, and should have used the full U.S. air power in Libya instead of “leading from behind.”

In short, Senator McCain advances a foreign policy identical to the Bush foreign policy, one of enforcing America’s dominance without consultation with allies, and of intervention before diplomacy.

Then came Ms. Rice, a very popular figure in Republican circles, but, as The Atlantic wrote this week a person “…at the center of some of the greatest foreign policy debacles in recent history…”

Oddly, Rice did not voice support that Russia is our pre-eminent enemy as stated by Mr. Romney. Given her widely known expertise of all things Russian her silence on the topic seemed unusual.

But Secretary Rice did insist that we need to stop “leading from behind” as McCain had noted, and that with a President Romney that would be changed because domestic economic success would forecast international leadership success.

Rice had stated to reporter Norah O’Donnell a day earlier that there is “…no doubt the United States voice (in foreign policy) has been muted…” by the Obama administration, and renewed confidence in the U.S. would follow a Romney administration.

The problem with McCain, Rice, Bolton and Romney on foreign policy is there is little or no basis for their arguments in fact.

In fact, the American people are war weary, and our military solutions have had little success at very great cost in changing the cultures that make the Middle East a volatile and unchanging arena for violence and hatred.

In fact, we have not lost the trust of our allies, but gained their trust since the end of the Bush administration.

Pew Research reports that 92 percent of the French support the re-election of President Obama; Germany 89 percent; Britain 73 percent; Spain 71 percent; Italy 69 percent; and in each of these nations the trust in U.S. policy has risen significantly since the end of the Bush administration.

Perhaps the most telling answer from Ms. Rice came from the O’Donnell interview: When asked to name a single Obama foreign policy failure Secretary Rice could not do so.

Osama bin Laden is dead, U.S. drone strikes have decimated Al Qaeda, the war in Iraq is over, and the exit from Afghanistan is planned.

Yet the Romney experts want to lead us back to the Bush era of diplomatic and political failure.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.