In The Wall Street Journal today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney penned an op-ed titled “A New Course for the Middle East,” criticizing President Obama’s foreign policy.
Relying heavily on conservative talking points, Romney fails to provide readers with a single policy proposal he would pursue to bring stability to the Middle East. A candidate can only echo such GOP favorites as “American strength,” “soft power” and “in defense of freedom” so many times before the stench of ambiguity overpowers voters looking for concrete answers. “[America] needed a strategy for success, but the president offered none,” Romney said. Ironically, the Republican nominee offers no strategy himself. Instead he relies on vague rhetoric like “dignity of work” to condemn Obama’s policies overseas, and he claims that we need to “encourage liberty” instead of oppression and direct people’s life choices to counter extremism. Not only does this mirror Obama’s current foreign policy, but it leaves us with nothing but empty jargon.
A criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy is not only good politics — it is essential for robust debate. And Romney needs one. For someone who lacks foreign policy experience, it would be a way for him to prove his worth on the international stage. However, Romney’s attacks are partisan at best and irresponsible at worst. A criticism of current policy coming from the right is way out in left field due to its absurdity.
Merely mentioning the word Syria can not be passed off as having a suitable, safe plan for handling the escalating humanitarian crisis. Trumpeting the need for increased pressure on Iran is just pandering without substance. But while Romney drones on in nebulous campaign rhetoric, Obama is literally droning on in Pakistan and Yemen, without regard for Congressional approval, civilian casualties or military blowback. Where is that criticism? Obama has continued to prop up authoritarian regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia while lauding democratic uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Where is that criticism?
Recent administrations have led us down an abyss when it comes to militarization since Sept. 11. Instead of drowning in the talking points that constantly echo off those walls, voters deserve a substantive rationale for American foreign policy.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 2 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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