Mitt Romney has been extremely critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. At least he was until Monday night, when the two candidates met for their third and final debate. During the debate, Romney abruptly changed his entire foreign policy position. It turns out that Mitt now supports the Obama administration’s foreign policy completely! His only quibble is that Obama isn’t a big jerk about things. Here’s a sample of foreign policy issues where Romney has pledged to be just like Obama, only louder.
1. There’s No Reason to Change Policy in Syria
Mitt Romney has been critical of the ongoing stalemate in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad continues to cling to power as his people try desperately to oust him. Certainly, the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has claimed 30,000 lives, is a terrible thing, and we all want it to come to an end. Mitt Romney’s plan?
ROMNEY: I don’t want to have our military involved in Syria. I don’t think there is a necessity to put our military in Syria at this stage. I don’t anticipate that in the future.
As I indicated, our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us, a responsible government, if possible. And I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to remove – to remove Assad.
But I do not want to see a military involvement on the part of our – of our troops.
Okay, no troops, but what else can we do? Romney sees America taking “a leading role, not militarily, but a leading role organizationally, governmentally to bring together the parties; to find responsible parties.”
As Obama noted, this is not actually different than what the US is already doing. Romney’s proposal to solve the Syrian crisis would be to do what we’re doing — but maybe yell loudly that other countries should fall in line.
2. Killing bin Laden Was a Great Idea
In 2008, when Osama bin Laden was still breathing, and Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were both presidential candidates, both men had the opportunity to discuss a hypothetical attack on bin Laden within the borders of Pakistan. Both men gave clear, precise answers. Then-Sen. Obama was clear that he would order an attack. Romney was clear that he absolutely would not.
Well, in 2011, Obama turned the hypothetical into reality, and US military forces succeeded in killing the man behind the 9/11 terror attacks. This was, needless to say, a really popular decision by the president, so needless to say, it’s a decision Romney heartily supports today.
“I congratulate him on – on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda,” said Romney during the debate. Of course, had Romney been president, that decision would likely have been different — something Obama took particular glee in pointing out.
3. Yes, We Should Bring Troops Home from Afghanistan in 2014.
Mitt Romney has complained often about the Obama administration announcing that we will bring troops home from Afghanistan before the end of 2014. Not so much because he opposed the idea of bringing troops home, but because saying so was impolite, or something.
Well, fear not. Mitt Romney has learned to stop worrying and love the timeline.
ROMNEY: Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014, and when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do so.
We’ve seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful and the training program is proceeding apace. There are now a large number of Afghan Security Forces, 350,000 that are ready to step in to provide security and we’re going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014.
According to Romney, when Obama stated that troops would come home in 2014, it was a “politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.” I’m sure it’s completely different when Romney says it, though.
4. Sanctions on Iran Have Worked Well…
Mitt Romney declared often during the debate that we’re “four years closer to a nuclear Iran,” which is a rather silly statement; if Iran ever gets nuclear capability, even 500 years from now when it’s run by the most progressive government in the local galactic quadrant, then by definition, we are four years closer to a nuclear Iran than we were four years ago. Four years from now, we’ll be four years closer still, whether the president is Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson or that guy who sings “Gangnam Style.”
But I digress. During the debate, Romney talked often about how the US has done very little to keep Iran from getting the bomb. Obama replied by noting the sanctions on Iran, supported by the world community, which have wreaked havoc on Iran’s economy and government.
So how does Mitt respond to a little thing like reality? To say that it’s working as he planned it all along.
ROMNEY: It is also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I called for five years ago, when I was in Israel, speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps, crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do, to have crippling sanctions. I would have put them in place earlier. But it’s good that we have them.
So the sanctions are working really well, but should have been in place earlier. According to Obama, the delay happened because “it turns out that the work involved in setting up these crippling sanctions is painstaking. It’s meticulous.” As if it’s tough to get all the world’s powers, including Russia and China, on the same page with regard to Iran.
At any rate, what would Mitt do different than Barack with regard to sanctions? Well, Mitt says, “We need to put the pressure on them as hard as we possibly can.” So…yeah.
Of course, what about other actions we could take? Say, actions sung about by a former GOP presidential candidate? Will Mitt Romney bomb Iran like Obama won’t?
5…and There’s No Reason to Strike Iran Yet.
No. He will not.
ROMNEY: We need to increase pressure time, and time again on Iran because anything other than a – a – a solution to this, which says – which stops this – this nuclear folly of theirs, is unacceptable to America. And of course, a military action is the last resort. It is something one would only – only consider if all of the other avenues had been – had been tried to their full extent.
So according to Mitt Romney, Barack Obama should engage in international diplomacy to force crippling sanctions on Iran, and we should not take military action against Iran’s nuclear program save as a last resort.
It may seem as if that’s the exact same policy currently being pursued by the Obama administration, but the president himself identified the key difference.
OBAMA: I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking. You know, there have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that – that would make a difference.
Exactly. The only thing standing between America and its goals in Iran is how loudly the president talks. Just like Teddy Roosevelt said, only the opposite.
Image Credit: Donkey Hotey