On Monday night, President Obama and Governor Romney will meet in the final presidential debate. The topic: foreign policy and national security.
While I will listen intently to the arguments of both candidates, I am confident that Romney’s foreign policy proposals would be better for America and the world. Though the issues are complex, my reasoning for supporting Romney is pretty simple. President Obama’s foreign policy has been centered on confusion and weakness; I believe that a Romney foreign policy would be centered on clarity and strength.
I should note that I believe Romney’s foreign policy plans have some problems. I think his proposals for increased defense spending offer little additional strategic utility at great financial cost. I also feel that Romney is wrong when he argues that the world “should never see any daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. I believe the United States has a moral obligation to support Israel, but as with any alliance — including our relationship with our closest ally — disagreements sometimes occur. We should never be afraid to address our disputes in an open, positive manner.
That being said, I have a number of major dissensions with both the tone and substance of President Obama’s foreign policy.
For one, I consider Obama’s foreign policy to be inherently confused.
This confusion is most evident in Obama’s foreign policy toward the Middle East. When the president entered office in January 2009, he stated that he would open a new hand to the people of that region. In March 2009, he asserted that he desired a new era of “mutual respect” between the American and Iranian people. Similarly, in his much-vaunted June 2009 Cairo speech, he pledged American support for Egyptian pro-democracy movements.
Sadly, the president’s fine words were not matched with real support. In the case of Egypt, the Obama administration cut pro-democracy aid by as much as 80%. In the case of Iran, in the summer of 2009 when protesters took to the streets following another stolen election, Obama stayed silent. When those protesters were brutally crushed by Iran’s despotic leaders, Obama remained silent. His reasoning? He doesn’t like “meddling.” When Egyptians later rose to demand freedom from Mubarak, America’s hesitant support lacked both credibility and courage. Obama’s pro-respect, pro-freedom rhetoric was rendered impotent by his policy of willful disinterest.
Nowhere is the blended confusion and weakness of Obama’s foreign policy more obvious than with his Libya policy. Obama, under pressure from the E.U., authorized U.S. action to help remove Gadhafi from power in 2011. After making a ludicrous argument as to why the U.S. was not at war with Libya, the Obama administration rapidly moved to reduce U.S. involvement in the Libyan war. Since then, the U.S. has done little to help stabilize and support the Libyan state.