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Romney’s Proposed Foreign Policy: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

10.09.12

Romney’s Proposed Foreign Policy: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

10.09.12
Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHourMallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour

“I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values—and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us. America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.” – Mitt Romney

Stuck in a Cold War, Ozzie and Harriet time warp, Mitt Romney is living in a black and white dream world where America’s foes are easily identifiable and manageable, military solutions are preferred and effective, and America simply cracks a whip and everyone else snaps to attention. This was in clear evidence at yesterday’s VMI speech, in which Romney characterized America as a weak and feckless power under President Obama, and where every enduring high profile conflict in the world has a simple solution and would simply disappear as he waves a magic wand as president.

The VMI speech was a chest-beating exercise, designed to establish some foreign policy credentials (since he has none), convince any undecided voters who might be listening that Romney is a patriot who is aware that America has enemies throughout the world, and demonstrate that he will stand up to them in a George W. Bush way. We saw how well that worked in Iraq; Romney proposes to do much the same thing in Syria.

Among the highlights of his speech were his proposal to arm the Syrian opposition with heavy weapons, suggesting that the Obama administration has been “sitting on the sidelines” for too long, not taking decisive action. Doing so would be a mistake for several reasons, however, and his failure to focus on the risks involved in escalating American involvement in the conflict is evidence of Romney’s apparent inability to grasp the larger consequences at issue, as well as the likelihood of mission failure. It seems clear that Mr. Romney’s foreign policy advisors do not grasp just what is at stake in Syria or have an appreciation for the limitations of American military power in this multi-polar world. Perhaps they are themselves stuck in a neo-con time warp.

Thrusting the US into the Syrian conflict militarily is designed to fail because: We do not know who the Syrian opposition really is, but we do know it contains radical elements and members of Al Qaeda, and arming the opposition would by definition also be arming them. Doing so would dramatically escalate the conflict and turn it into the regional conflict so many fear, as Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia would also participate – either with money, men, or materiel. The outcome is far from certain, but the likelihood that a radical government would take over is high, and perhaps be allied with Iran. The U.S. populace have no desire to become embroiled in yet another conflict in the Middle East. There is unlikely to be an effective exit strategy.

So, in a Romney world, there is to be little limitation to the use of military power – either in application or in terms of the money needed to do so. By proposing to increase military spending by $2 trillion, he is in essence saying military muscle flexing will be the new American credo – whether in Syria or Iran. The same is true with respect to ‘diplomacy’: ‘Breast beating’ is also proving to be his credo – as he has demonstrated by taunting China and Russia with his words. Perhaps Mr. Romney should change his name to “Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle,” for that appears to be what he wishes to become.

This is unlikely to be an effective approach, for several reasons. First, the only country that still seems to think the American adventure in Iraq was successful is America. Second, an open hand is much more effective than a clenched fist – in almost every instance. Third, the Middle East and North Africa have already largely rejected the idea that dollars will buy influence (and in any event, Mr. Romney has already said that under his administration, countries will have to earn the right to foreign aid from America). Fourth, even Dubya had to work within the confines of the international legal system. Mr. Romney will be able to do little outside those confines – so while it all sounds good (to some) on paper, applying this new world of Tarzan will prove to be difficult for Mr. Romney.

In the end, Mr. Romney is unlikely to achieve much more, much differently than President Obama, and much of what he said in his speech is in reality more or less what Obama has already done or is currently doing. Whether “vigorously pursuing the terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi” or “urging the new government in Egypt to represent all Egyptians” or “pursuing a successful transition to Afghan security forces in 2014” – expect more of the same in many areas if Mr. Romney were to become president.

The speech serves only to demonstrate that Mr. Romney is the ultimate political chameleon, who has attempted to pivot to what he considers to be the political center in the last month of the presidential election. It remains to be seen whether a President Romney will do even half the things he says he will do – in part because his position is likely to change if he were to get into office (being such a chameleon), and because he will find that domestic and international political forces will display their own influence in his decision making process. Don’t be surprised if forces outside his control force him to remain in the political middle.

3 comments
5 comments
GTodd
GTodd

First off let me clarify that I am white, I am male. I AM NOT racist. I AM A bigot towards anyone who is a threat to our country, our way of life and our individual freedom to choose the value system by which we live our lives daily. Just so we are clear. Agreed. Okay!

So you don't like Romney's Foreign Policy. Well...at least he has one. Be relieved that I am not in charge of Foreign Policy. Here's what it would look like...are you ready? Here we go:

1. Within one hour of the new president being sworn into office, whether that be January 2013 or 2017, I would have an executive order signed that would permanently discontinue any non-citizen from entering the United States at any seaport, at any airport and along any border. I know it sounds impossible. Don't forget we do have drones that can now be used to patrol the unmanned sections of our borders. I know...sounds a bit harsh. But really, we need a Foreign Policy and you don't like the one Romney has pitched. Hang with me...this gets better.

2. All foreign embassies and/ or consulates operating the United States will be evacuated and all non-US citizens will be required to vacate US soil within 72 hours. Sooner departure is heavily encouraged.

3. Should you be a non-citizen visiting the United States, whether it be business or pleasure, you will be allowed 72 hours in which to vacate the United States. Should one miss the 72 hour deadline, you will be detained and returned to the proper country ASAP.

4. All foreign travel from the US will be permanently banned. No travel

into Canada and especially Mexico, will be permitted, for any purpose.

The only travel allowed outside the lower 48 is travel to and from

Alaska and Hawaii. So see...you can continue to enjoy traveling to

exotic locales. No whining allowed.

5. Should you be a US Citizen traveling abroad at the time, for business or pleasure, you will have 72 hours upon which to return to the Untied States. Should you miss the deadline, one will be held at the entry port until such time that one can be cleared by the new highly stringent background investigation procedures that have just been adopted immediately prior to the signing of the EO for Foreign Policy. Once one has cleared the background investigation they will be allowed to return to their home in the States.

6. All foreign trade will be suspended and cease to exist. Allow me to briefly discuss Domestic Policy if you will. Thank you. All boarded up and abandoned factories, from the glory days of US Industrialism, will be brought online. No foreign oil will be brought into the United States. All energy sources will originate from within outlying (water) US boundaries. We will become the self-sufficient power house that we once were. (Yes Virgina, my dear, we once were a totally self-sufficient country).

7. All outstanding foreign loan debt will be paid in full. All elected members of the Executive and Legislative branches will NOT receive any pay whatsoever for the required amount of time in order to bring our coffers back to proper surplus levels. Once proper surplus levels have been met, then and only then will your salaries be re-negotiated. Notice I said re-negotiated, not re-instated to previous levels. All government employees will take pay cuts to bring their earnings back in proper line with those like position pay rates in the private sector.

8. Monetary aid distributions, to foreign countries for any reason, will be permanently suspended. Don't come askin' cuz the answer is NO!

9. Last, but not least by any stretch of the imagination, the United Nations will be evicted from their NY Headquarters and be permanently banned from our shores. The United Nations building will be demolished and sold for scrape to be melted in our recently restored steel mills.

There you go! Sound Foreign Policy in nine points. Don't bother to comment with your dissenting opinions and your name calling. I don't care what you critics think or believe. Just thought I would offer another solution since you're not too hip on Romney's.

GTodd
GTodd

First off let me clarify that I am white, I am male. I AM NOT racist. I AM A bigot towards anyone who is a threat to our country, our way of life and our individual freedom to choose the value system by which we live our lives daily. Just so we are clear. Agreed. Okay! So you don't like Romney's Foreign Policy. Well...at least he has one. Be relieved that I am not in charge of Foreign Policy. Here's what it would look like...are you ready? Here we go: 1. Within one hour of the new president being sworn into office, whether that be January 2013 or 2017, I would have an executive order signed that would permanently discontinue any non-citizen from entering the United States at any seaport, at any airport and along any border. I know it sounds impossible. Don't forget we do have drones that can now be used to patrol the unmanned sections of our borders. I know...sounds a bit harsh. But really, we need a Foreign Policy and you don't like the one Romney has pitched. Hang with me...this gets better. 2. All foreign embassies and/ or consulates operating the United States will be evacuated and all non-US citizens will be required to vacate US soil within 72 hours. Sooner departure is heavily encouraged. 3. Should you be a non-citizen visiting the United States, whether it be business or pleasure, you will be allowed 72 hours in which to vacate the United States. Should one miss the 72 hour deadline, you will be detained and returned to the proper country ASAP. 4. All foreign travel from the US will be permanently banned. No travel into Canada and especially Mexico, will be permitted, for any purpose. The only travel allowed outside the lower 48 is travel to and from Alaska and Hawaii. So see...you can continue to enjoy traveling to exotic locales. No whining allowed. 5. Should you be a US Citizen traveling abroad at the time, for business or pleasure, you will have 72 hours upon which to return to the Untied States. Should you miss the deadline, one will be held at the entry port until such time that one can be cleared by the new highly stringent background investigation procedures that have just been adopted immediately prior to the signing of the EO for Foreign Policy. Once one has cleared the background investigation they will be allowed to return to their home in the States. 6. All foreign trade will be suspended and cease to exist. Allow me to briefly discuss Domestic Policy if you will. Thank you. All boarded up and abandoned factories, from the glory days of US Industrialism, will be brought online. No foreign oil will be brought into the United States. All energy sources will originate from within outlying (water) US boundaries. We will become the self-sufficient power house that we once were. (Yes Virgina, my dear, we once were a totally self-sufficient country). 7. All outstanding foreign loan debt will be paid in full. All elected members of the Executive and Legislative branches will NOT receive any pay whatsoever for the required amount of time in order to bring our coffers back to proper surplus levels. Once proper surplus levels have been met, then and only then will your salaries be re-negotiated. Notice I said re-negotiated, not re-instated to previous levels. All government employees will take pay cuts to bring their earnings back in proper line with those like position pay rates in the private sector. 8. Monetary aid distributions, to foreign countries for any reason, will be permanently suspended. Don't come askin' cuz the answer is NO! 9. Last, but not least by any stretch of the imagination, the United Nations will be evicted from their NY Headquarters and be permanently banned from our shores. The United Nations building will be demolished and sold for scrape to be melted in our recently restored steel mills. There you go! Sound Foreign Policy in nine points. Don't bother to comment with your dissenting opinions and your name calling. I don't care what you critics think or believe. Just thought I would offer another solution since you're not too hip on Romney's.

aurelius
aurelius

Romney has his own 47%. They are made up of racists and bigots. Critical thinking is totally absent from those people's head. Romney can make all the mistakes he wants thos 47% will back him up out of hatred for Obama. Some of us, whites, find the rest of us to be a national disgrace.

Jennifer Ciotta
Jennifer Ciotta

Daniel, I agree with you. The speech was over the top campaign rhetoric. Several weeks ago, even Vladimir Putin said he understood that Romney was engaging in rhetoric. What will happen if Romney becomes president? People laugh at me when I say our troops may be in Syria next, but with a "Tarzan" like Romney representing us, you never know. Look at what happened with Bush in Iraq.

Jennifer Ciotta

author of I, Putin (Vladimir Putin novel)

Jennifer Ciotta
Jennifer Ciotta

Daniel, I agree with you. The speech was over the top campaign rhetoric. Several weeks ago, even Vladimir Putin said he understood that Romney was engaging in rhetoric. What will happen if Romney becomes president? People laugh at me when I say our troops may be in Syria next, but with a "Tarzan" like Romney representing us, you never know. Look at what happened with Bush in Iraq. Jennifer Ciotta author of I, Putin (Vladimir Putin novel)

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