Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his first major foreign policy speech Friday at The Citadel, a military college in the important primary state of South Carolina. Full of pomp and belligerence, he called for a century of American dominance.
“This century must be an American century. In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world,” Romney said. “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”
Romney condemned what he called an isolationist tendency from the tea party conservatives and other Republicans that dare dissent from the pro-war ideology of the party.
“This is America’s moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s moment has passed. That is utter nonsense,” he proclaimed.
Romney criticized President Obama’s so-called “aggressive” withdrawal from Afghanistan and promised to respond to calls for cutting the defense budget by ramping up military spending and expanding US military presence around the world. Giving paranoid Republican voters what they wanted to hear, he ignored the fact that the ten year war in Afghanistan has gone on ten years too long and that America could cut its defense spending in half and still outspend every other country in the world.
This speech coincides with the announcement that Romney’s new foreign policy advisor is Walid Phares, a Lebanese-American, Fox News contributor, and rising Republican pundit known for his hawkishness.
The unmitigated militarism espoused by the famously duplicitous Romney is stale, even by American standards. He is trying to rally over-extended imperial sentiment in order to counter war weariness and (probably inaccurate) fears of a declining US hegemony.
He appealed more to vague sentiments and perceptions of complaisance on the international stage than to actual changes in policy. After all, it is difficult to present a starkly different option than Obama, who has followed essentially the same foreign policy as the most militaristic Republican president in recent memory, George W. Bush.