The presidential race has been interesting to say the least, particularly in the last few weeks. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had an excellent debate performance in Denver, President Barack Obama benefited from the unemployment rate dropping to a notably low 7.8 percent and Sesame Street’s Big Bird may possibly sue for defamation. One issue both candidates are remaining relatively quiet about (relative to the economy anyway) is an incredibly important one: foreign policy.
I’ll admit from the outset: I am likely voting for Obama in the election. Nonetheless, the poignant September Atlantic article gave me pause. Eye-catchingly named, “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama,” the article opines that Obama’s foreign policy contains acts of egregious arrogance, violence and abuse.
Moreover: The author’s claims are uncontroversial in the sense of being factual.
To paraphrase, the article covers Obama’s drone wars that are imprecise and destructive, his commitment of military force in Libya without Congressional approval, his use of secret surveillance without warrant on American citizens, the use of torture, the detainment of “suspected” terrorists without evidence and various other mentions.
“But you’ve been president for four years,” Romney exclaimed at Obama during the Denver presidential debate.
For that reason, we can more legitimately castigate Obama for his foreign policy (and policy in general). It is laughably easy to critique foreign policy when there is no “real” penalty. It is with that in mind that Romney’s “positions,” if you can call them that, are empty on foreign policy.
An of October issue of The New York Times argues that Romney’s foreign policy, when broken down to its simplest thesis, asserts: My foreign policy is the one that works; Obama’s policy has failed.
This is patently problematic. Consider: Israel and Palestine are still infamously icy, Iran presses forward with its capability to build a nuclear weapon and Libya remains a powder keg. Against the backdrop of these urgent realities Romney needs to answer the obvious question: What, exactly, are the policies he believes would work in these circumstances?
No empty rhetoric. No faux comparison with Obama. No catchy maxims like, “Peace through Strength.” We need substantive, detailed plans Mr. Romney. Granted, these situations are continually changing, but Romney’s overt lack of conviction on any detail makes him massively untrustworthy in this regard.
More disturbing than Romney’s lack of specificity in his foreign policy platform is his apathy toward actually affirming one. The aforementioned New York Times article articulates: “The shifts [in opinion on a variety of foreign policy topics], a half dozen of Mr. Romney’s advisers said in interviews, partly reflect the fact that the candidate himself has not deeply engaged in these issues for most of the campaign, certainly not with the enthusiasm, and instincts, he has on domestic economic issues.”
For the record, I think Romney will be just as outrageously abusive on the international stage as Obama. For example, I think Romney, too, would have ordered the extrajudicial killing of Osama bin Laden on foreign soil. While we can debate whether that act was correct, we can all agree it was an overt and ghastly sweep of presidential authority.
I understand the economy is important in the upcoming election this November. But it’s not all that matters. The foreign policy the next president executes could well decide the fate of our country, for better or worse.
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