When political leaders in the U.S. start talking about restoring “America’s” place in the world, the world should take uneasy notice.
It may mean that another crusade is being contemplated somewhere around the globe. It may mean that American live-free-or-die values are going to be imposed on some oppressed people somewhere else in the world.
That’s why America’s friends and enemies might have been taking uneasy notice of the run-up to Mitt Romney’s nomination for the presidency.
That great nation seems sometimes to be smarting from imagined hurts. Republicans, anyway, seem convinced that under Barack Obama, the U.S. rating as moral leader of the free world has fallen.
They may be right, up to a point. But it’s what they plan to do about it should they get the chance that should worry other folks.
It’s accepted that foreign policy is not a big issue among American voters just now. It seems just fine, therefore, that the Republican
Party should choose as its presidential candidate someone with no known foreign policy, except unqualified support of Israel and belief that massive military expenditures can guarantee American “exceptionalism.”
He has surrounded himself with neo-con foreign-policy advisers, seven of whom worked for George W. Bush. He has been prone to making truculent declarations as if to pick new enemies: China is a currency manipulator; Russia is still a “geopolitical foe.”
And should a showdown prove necessary with Iran, he who would be commander-in-chief has said he could authorize force on his own without the necessity of a congressional resolution.
Before Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was at it again. Instead of trying to make America like the rest of the world, the U.S. should be “making the rest of the world more like America.”
Then it was Clint Eastwood’s turn. He could have used a teleprompter, but one of the lines he didn’t flub was to declare that there’s a global problem “when the most powerful nation in the world is fixed only on domestic issues.”
“Make my day,” chanted delegates, some of whom were licensed to carry concealed weapons.
Romney himself hardly mentioned foreign policy, except to promise a military capability so strong that no nation would be “foolish enough to test it.” But the impression left was that the U.S. military might needn’t simply be defensive.
“A free world is a more peaceful world,” he declared.
Well, Iraq and Afghanistan have paid dearly for their freedom. Democratic movements, including those supported and encouraged by the most powerful nation, sometimes have awkward results.
The U.S. is offended that Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was in Tehran last week canoodling with Iran’s regime at the Nonaligned Movement’s summit.
Morsi has been accused of lending legitimacy to the clerical leadership that in 2009 crushed the very kind of movement that brought him to power in Egypt.
Israel is showing increasing impatience with the U.S. reluctance to use its muscle to remove the Iran threat. So, apparently, are some of Romney’s advisers.
But what is said during election campaigns sometimes means little beyond attracting votes. Sometimes foreign policy is dictated more by what happens in foreign places than by presidential advisers with defined agendas.
Under Obama, Predator drones were launched and the forces in Afghanistan surged.
Romney knows that American voters are most concerned about jobs, the budget deficit, health care and social security. Russia, China and the Middle East aren’t high on the voter priorities list.
The world doesn’t have to make Clint Eastwood’s day.
© Victoria Times Colonist