Tampa and Charlotte Conventions: Clashing Voices on Foreign Policy

Below you will find our take on the Republican Convention in Tampa which will be followed by our separate post commentary on the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.

TAMPA: Republicans at their Worst and Most Cunning 

There were many disturbing elements coming out of the Republican Convention in Florida apart from offensive acts to both African-Americans and Hispanics, or Clint Eastwood’s babbling dementia and smutty gross remarks, or Paul Ryan’s miss- characterization of Obama’s programs and acts. They all seemed so typical of a certain unfortunate crudity of people who had no wise, wit, nor sympathy for others that were not like them or perhaps anyone.  The words I thought of were, “selfishness,” “mindless,” and “misleading;” the last being a nice word for lies. (See Factcheck for the footnotes re lies.)  How sad.

Romney’s speech was appalling in terms of national security and foreign policy, filled with empty words without substance.  He rarely spoke about Iraq or Afghanistan at all where our troops have made so many sacrifices. He set no directions and he designed not to share his real specific thoughts with those who must vote in November for their president.  He had no clear statement on his Iran policy other than an indication of a yet unneeded military option.

The New York Times had it right in their editorial on August 31st which looked at the foreign and security policy issues that it said were not fully addressed by Romney or Paul Ryan.  Here a few selected quotes:

“Republicans have offered precious little of substance but a lot of bromides (“A free world is a more peaceful world!”) meant to convey profundity and take passive-aggressive digs at President Obama. But no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.”

“…..the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy.”

 “……Mitt Romney has tried to sound tough, but it’s hard to see how he would act differently from Mr. Obama except in ways that are scary — like attacking Iran, or overspending on defense in ways that would not provide extra safety but would hurt the economy.”

“….Ms. Rice said the United States has lost its “exceptionalism,” but she never gave the slightest clue what she meant by that — a return to President Bush’s policy of preventive and unnecessary war?

“She and Mr. McCain both invoked the idea of “peace through strength,” but one of the few concrete proposals Mr. Romney has made — spending 4 percent of G.D.P. on defense — would weaken the economy severely. Mr. McCain was not telling the truth when he said Mr. Obama wants to cut another $500 billion from military spending. That amount was imposed by the Republicans as part of the extortion they demanded to raise the debt ceiling.

“Ms. Rice said American allies need to know where the United States stands and that alliances are vitally important. But the truth is that Mr. Obama has repaired those alliances and restored allies’ confidence in America’s position after Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice spent years tearing them apart and ruining America’s reputation in the world.

The one alliance on which there is real debate between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is with Israel. But it is not, as Mr. Romney and his supporters want Americans to believe, about whether Mr. Obama is a supporter of Israel. Every modern president has been, including Mr. Obama. Apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it’s not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently.”

That was as good a summary as one can find of the emptiness of Romney’s foreign policy and the Republican lack of serious thought.

On some of the specifics of the GOP foreign policy positions: 

On the economic sphere —key to American long-term security – the Republican platform calls for the establishment of a Gold standard commission to examine going back to a gold standard for our currency. It is hard to imagine a more stupid and dangerous policy – putting our entire economy into the hands of a metal of no set worth and limited supply, open to manipulation and control largely by foreign mine owners – it would cause an immediate financial crisis and then a depression along with instability in our cooperation with other nations and in international trade. I will not bother our readers with the other economic policies which mirror the failed austerity policies in the EU/EURO Zone.   

Law of the Sea: The same platform says America should not ratify and indeed not be a part of the Law of the Sea Treaty.  Yet almost every administration after Reagan, including that of George W. Bush, has agreed to its ratification, but the right-wing of the Senate Republicans have opposed it. The US Navy and the Chiefs of Staff support the treaty as now does industry.  Keeping out of the treaty system puts our rights off free passage and access to seabed minerals in peril. Again, another example of Romney’s foolishness in the world abroad and I do not just mean insulting our UK friends on his trip abroad this August.

Reckless Belligerency: There is a carelessness and willingness to enter into conflicts and zones of deep instability, complexity, and danger that Romney and his neo-con advisors have indicated in position papers, statements, and in the GOP platform that boggles the mind. While making reckless statements that only infuriate countries with whom we have a wide range of interests (and even areas of cooperation), there is little indication of any deeper understanding of the interconnecting of issues and interests or of real as against least likely or imagined risks.  

Climate Change and Global Environmental Dangers: This is a prime example of ignoring serious dangers and clear catastrophic risks.  Romney, running mate Paul Ryan, and the GOP Platform and other GOP leaders deny the risks of global warming, the overwhelming scientific evidence, and above all are pushing for energy policies which will make the problem worse. They flatly refuse to deal with this true risk to global security in the face of major hurricanes, droughts, and coastal ocean levels rising.  

These are but a few examples of a national security and foreign policy platform and mindset that shows ignorance, recklessness, and myopia that spells major danger to American leadership abroad.  Just recently, for example, a Pew poll showed a vast majority of Indians (and in other polls, many other countries) with a high regard for America and Obama…..which would evaporate with a Romney presidency. Leadership starts through wise policies and cautious but clear actions.

Our next blog will look at the Democrat Convention and Platform and speeches.

We welcome your comments!

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