The Real Isolationism: Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy

Later today, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will deliver one of his first major foreign policy speeches to a gathering at The Citadel in Charleston, SC.  His remarks have been made available to the Associated Press and they roughly outline his ideas about Afghanistan, the military, the U.N., and “isolationism.”

1. The War in Afghanistan & the Military

If elected as President, Romney says he will take the first 100 days in office to review “the presence necessary to secure our gains and successfully complete our mission.”

Just yesterday, in another South Carolina campaign stop, Romney said he would increase both the size and spending of the military, promising to call 100,000 new troops and a larger Navy.

In other words, though the undeclared war in Afghanistan has been raging for a decade, Romney is not certain what he would do about it as President.  Translation: If Romney is elected, Americans can expect the war in Afghanistan to continue.

Combining his conviction that we need more troops, more seamen, and more military spending (in contrast to national defense spending which is a different matter altogether) with his need for 100 days of review, it becomes clear that Romney has no intention of reducing America’s nation-building and worldwide military presence.

Again, Romney’s concern is that America “secure our gains and successfully complete our mission” in Afghanistan.  What gains would those be?  More money for the military-industrial complex that benefits from nation-building, while Americans slip further into economic collapse and soldiers die in pointless wars?  What mission?  Ensuring that Al-Qaeda has an endless supply of recruits because of the bitterness that U.S. military occupation inevitably breeds?

2. The U.S. & the Rest of the World

Romney continues:

“This century must be an American century. In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.  God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”

If I may interject, as a Christian and pastor myself, I am a bit curious as to how Romney became privy to the express will of God as it relates to American “super-powerism.”  But I digress.

“America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers”?  Romney delivers few details, but claims that America must lead under threat that “someone else will.”

Putting aside the strangeness of Romney’s comments, it should be pointed out that, as of July, China owed over $1.1 trillion in U.S. debt.  The U.S. national debt is nearing $15 trillion, not including debt to be incurred due to commitments made in the future.  Someone else is already leading, Mitt.

And, while Romney does endorse working with the U.N., he adds: “But know this.  While America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital national interests.”

Such comments are particularly ironic given his statements on…

3. Isolationism

“This is America’s moment.  We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s moment has passed.  That is utter nonsense.”

The “isolationist shell,” a likely shot at GOP candidate Ron Paul, is only described as “waving the white flag of surrender.”  But are those really America’s two options?

Option 1 – Embrace never-ending  foreign wars, ever increasing military size and spending, deepening foreign resentment against the U.S. through “go it alone” policies.

Option 2 – Wave the “white flag of surrender” and creep back into an “isolationist shell.”

Romney offers nothing more than a false dilemma.  There is a “third way” and it is far greater than the caricature Romney gives of Ron Paul’s position.  What about a foreign policy that would make the Founding Fathers proud?

Thomas Jefferson advised: ‎”Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

George Washington, in his Farewell Address, encouraged America to:

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations.  Cultivate peace and harmony with all.  Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?

…In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place of them just and amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated.

…Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.”

Romney may accuse others of endorsing “isolationism,” but who is the real isolationist?

  • Is it the one who endorses peace (Paul) or the one who endorses further warfare and policing of the world (Romney)?
  • Is it the one who encourages diplomacy before bombs (Paul) or the one who suggests going it alone (Romney)?
  • Is it the one who stresses the need to close foreign bases to prevent international bitterness (Paul) or the one who wants a bigger military, bigger Navy, and more military spending (Romney)?
  • Is it the one who wants to bring our troops home (Paul) or the one who will take an additional 100 days to determine whether or not the wars have “secured our gains” (Romney)?

Who is the real isolationist?  Our current foreign policy – policing the world, meddling in the affairs of others, and creating international dependence upon the U.S. at taxpayer expense – is the height of isolationism and it promises to grow under Mitt Romney.

If America is to have genuine peace, friendship, and harmony with other nations, it will not come by threats and financial manipulation.  That is the real isolationism.

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