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Romney falls on his face

September 22, 2012
Dr. David Turner , The Inter-Mountain

Mitt Romney's rather ill-timed and inaccurate critique of President Barack Obama's response to attacks on American embassies and consulates served to overshadow the event's importance. The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, which killed four people, including the ambassador, called into question America's role in the Arab Spring and the aid given to help overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Instead of democracy, you have had mobs and guerrilla attacks by radical Islamists.

But the weakness of Romney's position was that he could not criticize either Obama of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, because his approach is more intrusive, if it is possible, than theirs. Since the summer, the governor has became a cheerleader for any military action in the Middle East. He made a special point to grovel in front of Benjamin Netanyahu during the summer tour and staked out a policy of pushing the envelope against Iran. Consequently, he was unable to nail Obama's hasty and ill-thought Libyan policy.

Simply, the United States back up a regime of which it knew little. Moreover, the approach was, "It is the right thing to do, the facts be damned." It is amazing Obama and his cohorts had anything against George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives because during the so-called Arab Spring, he resurrected the old cry after the second Gulf War in 2003 to democratize the Middle East. Last week is a reminder of what happens when social science axioms are adhered to and history is ignored. Guessing we knew more about Libya than some Libyan politicians, the United States found out that forces, which were derided as too small, were bigger than first thought. Ah, but hope springs eternal.

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Ron Paul did speak more than a little truth when he criticized American foreign policy as too ambitious for present circumstances. Still bogged down in Afghanistan, the United States cannot afford to continue this ill-conceived adventurism. And both Romney and Obama need to be grilled on whether they want to pursue Netanyahu's favorite project, which is war against Iran. In essence, there is truly not a dime's worth of difference between Romney or Obama on foreign policy - with an exception that the GOP nominee wants to speak loudly and carry a big stick. Obama characteristically wants to appear cool while he goes down essentially the same path.

Now to his credit, Obama has wisely avoided Syria, despite the remarks of his secretary of state. Romney, who would never take a cue from Paul, nevertheless could have driven a wedge between Obama and Clinton by questioning the over-optimistic actions taken during the Arab Spring. But also Romney has boxed himself in a position of being so militant that he gives away the game or he appears as either petty or opportunistic. Measured by any manner, Romney looks like a second-guesser at best and a warmonger at worst.

If the libertarians have been of any use lately, it is because their critique of American foreign policy is far more thoughtful than any other faction. The salient point that the American empire is far too expensive to maintain and based on often-flawed analysis is essentially correct. Paul would have a field day with Obama - but alas Romney cannot. As well, Paul's scathing attack on the Wilsonian roots of such imperialism is spot on. Apparently, the United States has been unable to instruct the Middle Easterners on how "to elect good men." On foreign policy, the difference is method and tone and no aims. Last week, Romney fell flat on his face - not because his beliefs were that different, but his were too clumsily expressed.



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