What’s Mitt’s Foreign Policy?
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What’s Mitt’s Foreign Policy?


Very soon in Tampa, just over the bay from me, Willard Mitt Romney will accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan will become the first GOP ticket since 1940 to lack any formal military or foreign policy experience. Coincidentally, the ticket that year was led by a businessman, Wendell Willkie, who had the misfortune of running not just against a popular Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but in a year when the economy was showing signs of life. The Willkie-McNary ticket lost in a landslide.

America’s economy is also in recovery mode and showing signs of life. But unlike 1940, voters’ have remained anxious about the state of the economy, and, as a result, both tickets are forced to focus almost exclusively on pocketbook issues. This is especially unfortunate for President Barack Obama, whose first term has been marked by numerous accomplishments abroad and by keeping America safe at home.

And, while an electorate focused solely on economic issues may appear to be good news for Romney and Ryan, the minimal attention being paid to the pair’s lack of foreign policy experience and avoidance of the topic is a disservice to America and our allies.

Meanwhile, there is much unrest in the world.

Syria is in turmoil, with this past Saturday marking the deadliest day in that nation’s civil war.

Iran is the world’s biggest state-sponsor of terrorism and despite facing tough sanctions, marches on with its nuclear program.

In Afghanistan, U.S. and coalition forces are being attacked by their supposed allies, the Afghan security forces they’ve been training.

In dealing with these issues, President Obama has taken a smart, principled approach that has usually kept Americans out of harm’s way. Still, these issues take time to resolve.

Meanwhile, Romney’s foreign policy gaffes so far abound–and he’s not even in the White House yet. Prior to picking Ryan, Romney went on a European Adventure that would have made Clark Griswold proud.

But it’s the substance of his views – or lack thereof, Will Marshall argues, that is no laughing matter. In a recent article for The American Interest, Marshall explains that “Romney has yet to develop a coherent outlook on U.S. security and leadership in a networked world. What we get instead is GOP boilerplate about American greatness and exceptionalism, and a pastiche of spaghetti-against-the wall criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy.”

For Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to be considered viable on the most presidential of issues – foreign policy – they must prove during this week’s convention that they not only grasp the world’s most intractable problems, but can offer solutions different than those already in place.

Continuing down a path of incoherence may be a calculated campaign strategy, but it’s not an option available to a commander-in-chief.

Kevin King is a Truman Partner at The Truman National Security Project where this was originally published.

August 30, 2012 at 21:28

Who is "Mitt"? What policy?

Leonard R.
August 30, 2012 at 16:08

I like Romney's policy toward the PRC. And that is reason enough to elect him I think. But I don't like a lot of his other foreign policy positions. The idea of re-arming Taiwan is futile and against US interests. I don't think the technology transfers would be secure. The weapons that the US gives Taipei will one day be in the hands of Beijing. I'm all for the US making money from arms sales. But ultimately, Taiwan can't be defended without destroying it. It's a sad fact of geography. The US would be well-advised to follow the British example with Hong Kong. Offer the Taiwanese who would be hurt by a PRC take-over, residence in the US. 
I don't like Romney's policy toward Russia either.  But I don't think he would be GW Bush II. He's smarter than Bush. At least I hope he is smarter than Bush.
I think Hillary Clinton has done an outstanding job, BTW. I can't say the same for her boss.  

August 29, 2012 at 17:29

There is a reason this article is under "Flashpoints" and not a policy blog/ section.  Mitt's only iota of a foreign "policy" would be to lash out at anyone that does not do as he says.  It would be Bush Jr. in magic underwear (forgive me if the foreign readers do not catch the reference).

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