Friday, October 7, 2011

Romney's vacuous foreign policy

Mitt Romney's interview with Judy Woodruff on the NewsHour tonight revealed someone who hasn't thought much about foreign policy and is content to repeat platitudes and, worse, nonsense. The U.S. shouldn't let any country 'balance' against it, he said. This is a dumb statement for a bunch of reasons, one being that the statement raises a non-existent problem because there hasn't been much (or any) traditional 'hard' balancing against the U.S. He said he would "listen" to the generals. What President wouldn't? He said the defense budget should consume roughly 20 percent of the federal budget or roughly 4 percent of GDP. Regardless of what's happening in the world? After the wind-down of the Afghanistan and Iraq involvements it is hard to see why this level of defense spending would be required; but in any event, defense spending should respond to conditions, not be set at an arbitrary figure. He said the U.S. should never "publicly" disagree with its allies, specifically Israel. Why not? He said Israel had never found itself in a more "fragile" setting than it does now. Come on. And then there was the usual stuff about the U.S.'s unique and special responsibility to ensure peace and prosperity in the world, blah blah. There are interesting foreign policy questions involving immigration, trade, economic relations e.g. with China (see under currency wars), U.S. policy in Latin America, attitudes toward the new regimes in the Arab world, and none of this came up in the interview. Instead he painted an outdated, vacuous picture of a "threatened" U.S. that must continue to spend huge sums on defense for no compelling reason. No wonder no one is excited about his candidacy.
Update: A dissection of his speech at The Citadel, here.

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