Romney Fails Commander-in-Chief Test
Despite regular calls for a change of direction to strengthen the United States' position around the world, Governor Romney's foreign policy rhetoric culminated in Monday's debate with what can only be broadly described as a concession of President Obama's successes.
While I concur that this administration has largely pursued the right strategies on the global stage, I am concerned by the apparent lack of critical thought Mr. Romney has given to his positions as he campaigns to be our next commander in chief. He simultaneously criticizes and agrees with our current approach, twisting himself in knots to appeal to his party's hardline neoconservatives by painting the president as weak, while he avoids sounding too hawkish to a citizenry wary of intervention and tired of war. These inconsistencies are troubling from one who hopes to make the final call on our most consequential national security decisions.
Sanctions On Iran
One issue that stands out is Iran. During the debate, Governor Romney implied that the President had allowed Iran to come perilously close to acquiring a nuclear weapon. It seems odd, then, that the Governor's solution is tighter sanctions.
In fact, this administration, in partnership with Congress, has imposed crippling American sanctions on Iran, while rallying the international community around the same cause. Rather than making Iran more likely to acquire devastating weapons, this unprecedented effort has put their country under severe economic pressure, which includes causing the value of Iranian currency to plummet more than 80 percent. This has increased the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Meanwhile, Israel and the United States are holding their largest ever joint military exercise starting this week, and the Israeli Defense Minister has determined our support of this critical ally to be "more than anything" that has been done in the past.
Romney Sends Mixed Messages
Governor Romney's mixed messages cause even more confusion when it comes to ending the longest war in our history. Recalling the arguments against a date certain withdrawal from Iraq, he has taken opportunities to oppose the president's timeline for winding down the war in Afghanistan, calling it "mistaken." Yet, by the final debate, he was ready to state unequivocally that "we'll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014." He even attributes our ability to have a successful transition to President Obama's strategy. It's no wonder that his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, had difficulty describing the Republican ticket's policy in the vice presidential debate, in which he tried to both commit to the 2014 transition and a reevaluation of that goal in 2013.
The list goes on for Governor Romney. He says the administration's strategy regarding the Arab Spring has not been "robust" enough, but when the President was working to bring our allies together to help defeat Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in an effort that won the hearts and minds of people across that country, Mr. Romney said we were doing too much.
Arming Opposition Groups
Now the governor wants the United States to take a more active role in arming opposition groups in Syria, in addition to our significant humanitarian work. Unlike in Libya last year, though, it is almost impossible to ensure those weapons do not fall into the hand of jihadists who make up many of the more than 100 anti-government groups.
I have been honored to serve on both the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees with colleagues who devote endless hours to our most pressing security issues. They are rare committees in Congress whose work largely transcends partisanship and political maneuvering because members on both sides understand the high stakes involved.
Romney: High Priority Protecting Citizens
If elected, I trust that Governor Romney would place no priority ahead of protecting our citizens. Unfortunately, his constant contradictions have instilled no confidence in his ability to make the risky call to go after our most wanted foe, or to build a coalition that can topple a brutal dictator while winning support from the people we are assisting. We only know that he is critical of the Administration while being unwilling or unable to articulate clear and consistent differences on key security issues.
In contrast, President Obama has proven to be a resolute leader. He is prepared to act decisively against the greatest threats to our nation, as in the case of Osama bin Laden, but is equally firm in his preference to work with our allies to limit our military's involvement around the world, as in Libya, while bringing our troops home and focusing more resources on domestic needs. The choice for our commander and chief for the next four years could not be clearer.
Jim Langevin is a Rhode Island Congressman, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze
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