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Romney a Statesman in His Foreign Policy Speech

In a comment on a Ricochet thread on Romney’s debate performance, I said, “I think Americans were waiting to see if Romney would get off the talking points and show authenticity, statesmanship and spunk – And he did!”

Romney’s foreign policy speech today showed the same statesmanship and spunk. He took a stand against the administration’s interpretation and handling of events in Libya – but quickly elevated his speech by painting a broader picture. Said he,

[And] I have come here today to offer a larger perspective on these tragic recent events – and to share with you, and all Americans, my vision for a freer, more prosperous, and more peaceful world.

Romney’s “vision” centered around his case for renewed American moral and strategic leadership in the world.

Oh how desperately we need moral and strategic leadership. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have embraced a foreign policy approach that is as unprincipled as it is unwise. Since they refashioned U.S. policy, the United States has expended more effort in pursuing good relations with dictators and dictatorships than in strengthening ties with democracies young and old, and encouraging and disseminating ideas of freedom. Instead of increasing America’s global stature as promised, they have spurned the very passion for liberty that makes America’s stature important and have given up the very strategic advantage that undergirds it. The result of de-emphasizing American power and American ideals is a more hostile, more oppressive world.

It was thus a relief to hear Romney state,

We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.

He reassured those that fear that taking a stand in the world means going to war by referencing the Cold War, which was indeed “cold,” but which we won brilliantly through the strategy of “containment.”

Given the way the Obama team sat idle in face of some of the most catastrophic human rights atrocities ever, it was also a great relief when Romney spoke up for human rights and for the “30,000 men, women, and children massacred by the Assad regime over the past twenty months.” He implicitly sided with those of us who insist that individual rights are human rights (innate, God-given and universal) and who believe that indifference to human rights is unacceptable and un-American.

Romney defended American exceptionalism, which the Obama team views as so yesterday. Said he,

We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We defended our friends, and ourselves, from our common enemies. We led. … This is what makes America exceptional: It is not just the character of our country—it is the record of our accomplishments. America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership—a history that has been written by patriots of both parties. That is America at its best.

It has been said that the Romney campaign has not drawn clear enough lines or given us a clear enough choice. Those lines are being drawn, and we are faced with a choice.

Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

  1. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    That was Reagan’s approach. He spent money and effort on our military that  a decaying  Soviet Union could not afford to spend in turn, thus hastening Soviet communism’s  demise. And, like Truman, he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian regimes. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms.

  2. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Hang On: Oh, no. I hope he doesn’t mean it. Otherwise, it’s the same kind of stupid stuff as with the Bush Administration. More nation building and human rights missionary work that kills too many Americans and costs hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up third-world kleptocrats. This is the kind of stuff that will make me gravitate to undecided. Romney has it right on economics, but he’s listening to the wrong group of internationalist neo-cons who have been so completely wrong in the past. · 26 minutes ago

    Just to be clear, I do not equate policy that embraces the best in the American foreign policy tradition – by paying attention to strategic requirements and democratic principles – with drawing up arms to force regime change. I am also not saying that Romney represents the best in that tradition. That remains to be seen.

  3. ConservativeWanderer
    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    That was Reagan’s approach. He spent money and effort on our military that  a decaying  Soviet Union could not afford to spend in turn, thus hastening Soviet communism’s  demise. And, like Truman, he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian states. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms. · 0 minutes ago

    The problem, Anne, is that far too many don’t want Reagan’s approach. They want Ron Paul’s.

  4. Albert Arthur
    Hang On: Oh, no. I hope he doesn’t mean it. Otherwise, it’s the same kind of stupid stuff as with the Bush Administration. More nation building and human rights missionary work that kills too many Americans and costs hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up third-world kleptocrats. This is the kind of stuff that will make me gravitate to undecided. Romney has it right on economics, but he’s listening to the wrong group of internationalist neo-cons who have been so completely wrong in the past. · 27 minutes ago

    They weren’t completely wrong. It was wrong to push for elections in Gaza, clearly. But it wasn’t wrong to overthrow Saddam and the Taliban. It was wrong not to have a follow up plan for what to do afterwards. Or if there was a plan, not to make it clear what that plan was (not in particulars, but in the grand scheme of things). 

  5. DocJay

    I discussed this speech today with a couple and they were very enthusiastic.  One is a black man and a former CIA operative and his wife worked for the State Dept.   Both are voting against Obama.

  6. Hang On

    They did have a plan. The Iraqis were going to love us because we got rid of Sadaam. A little looting – never mind. And Iraqi oil was going to pay for everything. Pure idiocy.

    Albert Arthur

    Hang On: Oh, no. I hope he doesn’t mean it. Otherwise, it’s the same kind of stupid stuff as with the Bush Administration. More nation building and human rights missionary work that kills too many Americans and costs hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up third-world kleptocrats. This is the kind of stuff that will make me gravitate to undecided. Romney has it right on economics, but he’s listening to the wrong group of internationalist neo-cons who have been so completely wrong in the past. · 27 minutes ago

    They weren’t completely wrong. It was wrong to push for elections in Gaza, clearly. But it wasn’t wrong to overthrow Saddam and the Taliban. It was wrong not to have a follow up plan for what to do afterwards. Or if there was a plan, not to make it clear what that plan was (not in particulars, but in the grand scheme of things).  · 5 minutes ago

  7. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    ConservativeWanderer

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    … he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian states. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms. · 0 minutes ago

    The problem, Anne, is that far too many don’t want Reagan’s approach. They want Ron Paul’s. · 6 minutes ago

    It’s true and I’d be interested in discussion on that point. I’ve noticed a level of indifference to human rights that might be unprecedented in our history.  We’ve been indifferent before,  but often became less so once the full story was out.  Today, we have instant, vivid information about and images of atrocities …..

  8. Hang On

    So what ARE our strategic requirements in the Middle East?

    Oil? There’s enough in North America we don’t need the ME. Control of other people’s oil? Why would we want to do that?

    Protection of Israel? Israel should do that for themselves. We can help, but it is 99% up to the Israelis. Which is how they would want it.

    Adherence to an outdated and unworkable treaty on spread of nuclear weapons?

    Human rights missionary work?

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    That was Reagan’s approach. He spent money and effort on our military that  a decaying  Soviet Union could not afford to spend in turn, thus hastening Soviet communism’s  demise. And, like Truman, he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian regimes. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms. · 16 minutes ago

    Edited 5 minutes ago

  9. Richard Fulmer
    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    ConservativeWanderer

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    … he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian states. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms. · 0 minutes ago

    The problem, Anne, is that far too many don’t want Reagan’s approach. They want Ron Paul’s. · 6 minutes ago

    It’s true and I’d be interested in discussion on that point. I’ve noticed a level of indifference to human rights that might be unprecedented in our history.  We’ve been indifferent before,  but often became less so once the full story was out.  Today, we have instant, vivid information about and images of atrocities ….. · 0 minutes ago

    Does the United States have a moral responsibility to respond to atrocities committed in foreign countries if our national interest is not involved?

  10. ConservativeWanderer
    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    ConservativeWanderer

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: The proper goal of having a strong military and the will to use it is to never have to use it.  Perhaps Gov. Romney understands that. · 2 minutes ago

    … he understood the power of a strong moral stand through principled presidential speeches and using our influence to draw the world’s attention to people forgotten in totalitarian states. He helped to transform the world without the drawing of arms. · 0 minutes ago

    The problem, Anne, is that far too many don’t want Reagan’s approach. They want Ron Paul’s. · 6 minutes ago

    It’s true and I’d be interested in discussion on that point. I’ve noticed a level of indifference to human rights that might be unprecedented in our history.  We’ve been indifferent before,  but often became less so once the full story was out.  Today, we have instant, vivid information about and images of atrocities ….. · 7 minutes ago

    You’d have to discuss that with Hang On, Richard Fullmer, and others. I happen to agree with you, and find their worldview incomprehensible.

  11. Hang On
    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    ConservativeWanderer

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

      2 minutes ago

     · 0 minutes ago

    The problem, Anne, is that far too many don’t want Reagan’s approach. They want Ron Paul’s. · 6 minutes ago

    It’s true and I’d be interested in discussion on that point. I’ve noticed a level of indifference to human rights that might be unprecedented in our history.  We’ve been indifferent before,  but often became less so once the full story was out.  Today, we have instant, vivid information about and images of atrocities ….. · 5 minutes ago

    I’m indifferent because I don’t buy the notion it is

    universal – obviously not. Few have them.

    god-given – that is so totally ahistorical as to be farcical. I’ve never understood how conservatives can talk about American exceptionalism in one breath and universal human rights in the other, when those rights are one of the things that makes us exceptional.

  12. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Hang On

    Conservative Wanderer

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

      2 minutes ago

    It’s true and I’d be interested in discussion on that point. I’ve noticed a level of indifference to human rights that might be unprecedented in our history.  We’ve been indifferent before,  but often became less so once the full story was out.  Today, we have instant, vivid information about and images of atrocities ….. · 5 minutes ago

    I

    god-given – that is so totally ahistorical as to be farcical. I’ve never understood how conservatives in one breath can talk about American exceptionalism in one breath and universal human rights, when those rights are one of the things that makes us exceptional. · 0 minutes ago

    In my upcoming book, I argue that we are exceptional precisely because we see rights as universal. (I define exceptionalism differently than Romney does in this speech).  NO government has the “right” to take those rights away; in the view of the founders, rights were prior to government.  Without this concept, we are beholden to politicians in power “at the time” for our freedom. 

  13. Frozen Chosen

    I disagree with Mitt about arming the Syrian rebels, mainly because I think those rebels are primarily jihadists – or at least will end up being controlled by jihadists.

    I’m not sure we have a play there…

  14. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Frozen Chosen: I disagree with Mitt about arming the Syrian rebels, mainly because I think those rebels are primarily jihadists – or at least will end up being controlled by jihadists.

    I’m not sure we have a play there… · 3 minutes ago

    Please see the blog, Foreign Policy Mythology: Syrian Tragedy for a discussion of that. The protest movement was originally a group of democracy advocates, that grew in response to heartbreak and outrage over the regime’s atrocities against protesters. While we and the UN did nothing, outside jihadists infiltrated.

  15. Nanda Panjandrum

    Amen…At last!  Agree with others re: Syrian rebels being given materiel – further concern re: the replacement of Libya’s prime minister being reported today [10/8/12]. Prayers continue…

  16. FirstAmendment

    Anne, well said. The world needs to see strength, clarity and resolve from the United States — all grounded in the principles and beliefs that are at the core of American exceptionalism. Romney began to articulate this today, finally. As the debate broadens beyond only the economy, hopefully people will begin to see and understand the truly stark contrast between what Romney stands for and the incomprehensible (and dangerous) babble of the current administration.

  17. David Williamson

    For the first time in my life I am proud of my President – oh, wait – he is not yet the President.

    But he sure looks like it.

  18. liberal jim
    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Frozen Chosen: I disagree with Mitt about arming the Syrian rebels, mainly because I think those rebels are primarily jihadists – or at least will end up being controlled by jihadists.

    I’m not sure we have a play there… · 3 minutes ago

     The protest movement was originally a group of democracy advocates, 

    There is no concrete evidence to support this statement.  I assume there might have been some democracy advocates but it is more than reasonable to assume there were jihadists also.  

    Has it occur to moderate Mitt that we may not have a dog in this fight.

  19. flownover

    Well, a contender has the chance to show the country what he wants. And the incumbent has to show the country what they get . 

    In this case,  we get pictures of dead ambassadors, burning embassies with  Al Qaeda flags flying over those flames, bomb building madmen , despots killing their own people . 

    No contest on this one.

  20. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    liberal jim

    Anne Pierce, Guest Contributor

    Frozen Chosen: I disagree with Mitt about arming the Syrian rebels, mainly because I think those rebels are primarily jihadists – or at least will end up being controlled by jihadists.

    I’m not sure we have a play there… · 3 minutes ago

     The protest movement was originally a group of democracy advocates, 

    There is no concrete evidence to support this statement.  I assume there might have been some democracy advocates but it is more than reasonable to assume there were jihadists also.  

    But, there is concrete evidence, although no one would know, since the media has bought Clinton’s line -which is an after the fact defense of her inaction and indifference.  I’ll send along a few of the references I accessed for my research on Syria – when I get back to my office (where those references are) tomorrow!