Friday, September 14, 2012

Foreign policy enters presidential campaign

This was supposed to be a presidential election built on the economy. Economic issues would triumph everything, including a war in Afghanistan that is still killing Americans on a near-daily basis. Foreign policy wasn't going to matter.

Then an American ambassador was killed by a mob in Libya, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke before thinking, accusing the Obama administration of being apologetic to the Arab mobs. Suddenly, foreign policy is at the forefront. Obama's strategy of winning over Islamic leaders with compassion for their long-standing complaints and understanding for their beliefs has not reached the success he'd hoped for. Despite American intervention to help Muslims in Bosnia, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, the West Bank and other places, the United States is still despised by many who occupy the streets in Arab countries. Those who foment hatred for the United States retain an advantage and continue to pretend that the United States is the root of all evil in the world. An uneducated and largely illiterate population follow the Islamists' lead.

But Romney's world view seems destined to only make matters worse. His comments after riots in Egypt and Libya seemed to suggest that the only way to communicate with angry Muslims is to ignore their complaints and strike them down. Another land war in the Middle East, anyone? Romney complains that the United States is not being strong and forceful in the face of Arab protests. How many American lives and how much American treasure will it take to impose Romney's will on the recalcitrant Arab mobs?

Obama's strategy hasn't transformed the Middle East, but the neoconservative strategy of invading countries to impose our will didn't work so well either.

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