But now he needs to articulate alternative to Obama foreign policy.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was of course entirely correct about the disgrace of our embassy in Egypt reacting to mob violence there by criticizing those who might have hurt the mob’s religious feelings, and he was justified in raising the issue. It is nothing short of astonishing that the press has managed to turn a major foreign policy disaster for President Obama into some sort of alleged campaign gaffe by Romney. Yes, sometimes “politics stop at the water’s edge,” but if incompetence isn’t a valid campaign issue, this country is in deep trouble.
But Romney has to do more than take a single swipe – however valid – at one diplomatic blunder. A serious, well-thought-out alternative to Obama’s disastrous foreign policy is urgently required, and if Romney really wants to be president, he needs to make it.
“Lead from behind,” which seems to be the president’s main intention on the world stage, never made much sense, especially in a volatile, generally anti-American region such as the Mideast. It’s a guarantee that events will either just drift or be moved in directions we don’t like by people who don’t like us very much. Couple that philosophy with Obama’s tendency to apologize for Western values and American history and his obvious discomfort with the idea of America as the last superpower, and you have a recipe for disaster.
And “disaster” seems to be the right word for the events now unfolding in the Mideast. Violence directed at America in Libya and Egypt spread quickly to Yemen and Tunisia, and there are ominous signs it might spring up elsewhere. How do we lead ourselves out of this mess, from behind? If we don’t take decisive action, what will Iran’s reaction be? If Israel doesn’t trust us, what will it do?
Like it or not, America is the last superpower, and if we don’t exercise leadership, someone else will, and the world as a result is not likely to be a safer, more civilized place.
But how should that power be used? Clearly there is no appetite for “cowboy diplomacy” of the sort that tries to bully America’s interests to the front of the line regardless of what the rest of the world wants. But we really can’t afford Obama’s passive-aggressive deference to world opinion, either.
Somewhere in between those extremes is a sane foreign policy that seeks to balance America’s interests and the world’s needs. If Romney has an idea of what that policy might be, we need to hear it. If foreign policy or national security comes up during one of the debates, that would be a good time for it.