Vacuous Purpose

The debate tonight between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama again showed how superficial the Romney position is on a wide range of issues. Mitt Romney has shown himself incapable of certainty on any position of note. Except perhaps one. He loves to repeat the line that America must be strong, the strongest nation on Earth, and he is quite willing to bankrupt the country to do so.

Mitt Romney is a one pony show, a tired repetition of conservative talking points that do nothing to tell us precisely what his policies are. His only relatively strong position is that on Israel. He insists that Israel is our most important ally and that we must always stand with Israel. That is is an inadequate explanation of Americas foreign policy. Firstly, I do not for an instant believe that Israel is our most important ally. It is an important ally in that part of the Middle East, but by no means our only one.

Turkey, a key member of the NATO alliance, is far larger than Israel and has been an important ally in the region for decades. Saudi Arabia, despite being a monarchy, provides us with much of our oil; they must be considered an important ally. Jordan is another, albeit far smaller ally, but it is nonetheless an ally.

Then, we must consider other nations around the world. Nothing in this debate was mentioned about Britain, who is quite proud of its “special relationship” with the United States. Nothing was said about Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and other nations in Europe. Is Israel really more important to this nation than all of Europe? Europe, and especially the United Kingdom is our biggest trading partner. Are they not more important to us as an ally than Israel?

What of our friends in various parts of Asia? Our friendship has been growing with our old foe, Vietnam, with whom we trade more and more. Taiwan is a crucial ally in the South China Sea. Japan is a huge trading partner and friend, and has been since the end of World War 2. Are they not more important to this country than our partnership with Israel?

Nothing was said about South America and the trading block of Mercosur, which comprises most of the nations in the region. Are they not considered more important to our national interest than is Israel?

Mitt Romney concentrated on this single issue and mentioned it half a dozen times, as though the Obama administration never speak to or of Israel. The fact is that there is a close relationship between Israel and the United States, and no-one is saying that that is going to change any time soon. The fact is still, that despite our insistence on Israeli sovereignty and their right to exist peacefully in the Middle East, both the United States and Israel must work aggressively to procure a state for the Palestinians, stop treating them with contempt, and violating their human rights. Of this, I heard nothing in the debate.

Romney appears to believe that we can double down on Iraq and keep troops in the country for an indefinite period of time. Obama was quite clear that he did the right thing in pulling out of the country. It is not up to this country to run the affairs of another sovereign state indefinitely. Both Iraq and Afghanistan need to take responsibility for their own security. This country should not have to spend vast amounts of money policing other nations. This nation has been at war for far too long, and it is time that we ended those wars.

Romney just does not appear to have a grasp of the needs of a modern military machine. He spends time wanting to fight the last war with outdated machinery, vast armadas of ships, aircraft and tanks that the military does not want or need. We are not fighting the Second World war, the threats to the nation have morphed and changed, and we need to have the weapons to fight a modern war.That means more remote aircraft, ships and submarines that do not need a human presence. It means smaller, more focused groups that can move into and out of countries swiftly, unnoticed. The days of huge land battles and massive number of troops are numbered. At least for the time being.

Obama was focused, precise, saying exactly what he has done as President. He mentioned working closely with allies to implement sanctions  against Iran, sanctions that are having the desired effect. Iran is reeling, its currency plummeted, it oil exports dwindling. Sanctions are working. At some point Iran will have no choice but to negotiate with the United States and the United Nations to end its nuclear program. This is what Obama has put in place. Romney could only parrot what the President had just stated.

Obama has brought more actions in the WTO than any president before, to prevent China from dumping products on the American market, something that the President highlighted. quite clearly. Romney’s assertion that he will label China a currency manipulator is just  political theater, and dangerous theater at that. What does he imagine that the result would be if he took such action? China and the United States could end up in a trade war, or a real war.

As the president indicated, he creates international alliances, through multilateral organizations like the United Nations, to come to a common consensus on issues of international importance. This is what we need in a president, not someone that take unilateral action, as G.W. Bush did in Iraq. We need a President that can work with allies, mend international fences, sign treaties with other nations, not someone that thinks that he can do whatever he wants around the world.

Overall, the President accorded himself well against Romney, who came across as placid and not well versed on the intricacies of international diplomacy. His CEO style of governance is not what this country needs. We need a president that can work with friends and allies to accomplish goals that will help the United States and its international partners. I do not believe that Mitt Romney can do this. Obama Plainly can.

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