The Not-Obama Doctrine
Posted by Alex Koppelman“It’s time to change course in the Middle East,” Mitt Romney said on Monday, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute. His campaign had billed this as a significant address, one in which he would explain exactly what his foreign policy would be if he’s elected President. He continued:
That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them, no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them, and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.That may be the best summary of the Republican nominee’s foreign policy that anyone has provided so far. Romney talks big—“It is the responsibility of our President to use America’s great power to shape history—not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events,” he says. But when it comes time to talk specifics, we are left with Romney’s “bedrock principles”: we should be confident, be nice to our friends, stand up to our enemies, and keep our promises. That’s not the core of a strong foreign policy; it’s a series of lessons to be taught to a kindergartner.
From a strictly political perspective, it’s hard to be surprised by the lack of real specifics that Romney has offered in this area, or even to blame him: Republican foreign policy is still, in many ways, George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and George W. Bush’s foreign policy will not win anyone an election right now.
But if this were really just Romney’s standard allergy to detail—an aversion shared by plenty of other politicians, true, but one he’s elevated to an art form—that would be one thing. The truth appears to be worse: Romney is not sharing specifics because he doesn’t have any.