Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mitt Romney's Message to America

Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday was praised as a GOP success. With a rare blip of honesty, Fred Barnes correctly notes that Romney "followed the script for the convention flawlessly." Well, we all know now what that script was - and perish the thought that Romney might even have an original idea that goes against the scripted status quo!

Part of the script of the GOP (both of the major political parties, in fact) is, of course, a dangerous interventionist foreign policy that inevitably leads to blowback. Although other speakers did not talk specifically about foreign affairs, choosing to speak mostly on economic issues or share personal stories, Romney certainly stayed on script. Romney spoke about many things (most of which were platitudinous) but his words regarding foreign policy rang the loudest in my ears. From what I could discern, it sounded like Romney was preparing an already war-weary nation for four more years of new war, should he win in November.

The first war Romney promised was a trade war with China:
...we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.

Romney says that China has already initiated this trade war by being a "currency manipulator." Now, there is no question that China is a currency manipulator - but no worse than the United States. The Federal Reserve has executed a number of quantitative easing packages throughout the decades (and the question is not if QE3 will happen but when - UPDATE (9/13/2012): here it is) which does nothing but manipulate the currency by flooding the money supply, creating inflation and weakening the purchasing power of the US dollar. By all means curtail the Federal Reserve (of course Romney is not interested in doing that)! However, if being a currency manipulator makes one a trade "cheat," the United States has been guilty for about 100 years.

Of course, the war promises do not stop there, Romney promises a more conventional war with Iran:

Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat.
In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.

Yes. That is exactly what we need - another war in the Middle East built upon an unsubstantiated claim that an unfriendly nation has a nuclear weapons program. How will Iran harm the United States with its inferior and aged air force exactly?

But that's not all! The last Romney-promised war is another Cold War with Russia:
[Obama] abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.

While Obama's open-mic slip-up regarding Putin was certainly creepy and indicative of his elitist nature, Romney's intention to poke the bear is not any better. What would happen if Russia tried to put a missile system in our backyard? In say.... Cuba? Wait! That already happened 50 years ago! For those who may have forgotten, it was called the Cuban Missile Crisis. Few Republicans seem to be able to put themselves in other peoples' shoes and follow the Golden Rule when it applies to what the United States does to other nations. Romney really highlighted this unfortunate fact. If Poland wants a missile shield against Russia, they are going to have to build one themselves; America needs to quit the nation-building business. Provoking Russia with a missile system that threatens them is simply neither a good idea nor an example of a free people interacting peacefully with others.

Romney finally summed up his foreign policy as "the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan." A more apt description of this foreign policy would actually be Wilsonian but at least the GOP establishment is seemingly finally refraining from falsely claiming that they seek the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers (which they fundamentally reject). Wilson coined the idea that the world must be made safe for democracy - through war, of course - a notion that the United States has cradled close to heart ever since. Naturally, few (if any) nations ever became democracies in the Jeffersonian tradition after a bout of good-old-fashioned American war (and certainly not recently, as seen here, here and here - just for starters).

Throughout the RNC week, the Republicans by and large made a great case against the Obama administration by highlighting its obvious failures. However, the Republicans failed to give a convincing argument in favor of voting for team Romney/Ryan. Romney's short but not-so-subtle calls for policies that lead to wars of various kinds certainly cannot help the GOP's presidential bid.

No comments: