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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