Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Romney At VMI Hits Obama Hard On Foreign Policy

Governor Mitt Romney chose Virginia Military Institute the site for a major speech on foreign policy.Actually, there were only a few differences in his previous speech at the Citadel and today's, but they're worth noting.

Romney sees the current War on Jihad very much as a vital struggle along the lines of the Cold War that must be won, which makes perfect sense in many respects. He referred to it as "a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair."

In both speeches, he said exactly what needed to be said about the Iranian threat, the hollowing out of our military, and the need to increase our Navy from unsafe levels it hasn't been at since 1916.

The new strategies he's proposing here are interesting.

He proposes a much tighter vetting of who gets U.S. aid, and the use of that aid as a carrot for pro-U.S. behavior and the safeguarding of our interests. And he wants to use free trade in the same way much more aggressively, pointing out that the Obama Administration has not signed a free trade agreement in four years.

Governor Romney made the salient point that in Iran and in Syria, President Obama has simply not attempted to vet the players and to aid the forces of real pro-western democracy. Romney pledges to change that:

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us. Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not forget that you forgot about us.”

These are all good ideas worth pursuing, although in dealing with Islamist countries,a President Romney may find that his successes are mixed,because Islam trumps all.Still, I doubt that a Romney Administration would be funding, aiding and abetting the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood at home or abroad.

Governor Romney went over the various hot points in the world, and by and large seems to have a pretty firm grasp of global strategy and an awareness of the big picture and the way both our friends and our enemies perceive us that President Obama has always lacked.He sees our allies hungry for the American commitment and leadership that's been missing for the past 4 years, and I think he's entirely correct on that.

In the Middle East particularly, the return of the perception of America as the strong horse will do a great deal to change things on the ground and help destroy our enemies.

Governor Romney made a particular point of saying that he's committed to missile defense, and slapped President Obama's hit mic leak earlier this year to Russian President Medvedev by quipping that he, Romney, will not be more flexible with Vladimir Putin over that.

He also made a pro forma remark about U.S. commitment to a prosperous and democratic Palestinian state. That isn't going to happen because there's no potential for it, but I suppose his foreign policy team urged the governor to stick something in his speech about it somewhere.

On Afghanistan, Governor Romney said that he will continue to pursue a transition to Afghan forces by 2014, but will not write it in stone, saying:

..the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

Here, I think Governor Romney is perhaps kidding himself a bit. Barring a massive change in rules of engagement, our attitude towards the Kharzai government and a real strategy to defeat the Taliban both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I think Governor Romney will find that there are far better uses for our troops, time and money than Afghanistan. After all, if the Taliban, Lashkar-e-taiba and al-Qaeda want to find a failed state to foment terrorism from, there's one right next door in Pakistan.

All in all though, a sensible and statesmanlike speech,no matter what the usual suspects say.

America leads...what a concept.

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