Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy in 3 Sentences

| Mon Oct. 8, 2012 4:39 PM EDT

There's so little interesting news today that I finally caved in. I read Mitt Romney's big foreign policy speech. Below, I've picked out all of the pieces that appear to represent actual policy goals:

  1. I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
  2. I will make further reforms to our foreign assistance to create incentives for good governance, free enterprise, and greater trade, in the Middle East and beyond.
  3. I will champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world.
  4. I will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed Americans.
  5. In Afghanistan, I will pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.
  6. In Egypt, I will use our influence—including clear conditions on our aid—to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel.
  7. I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.
  8. I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security—the world must never see any daylight between our two nations.
  9. I will roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military.
  10. In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.

As near as I can tell:

  • Items 1-6 are, with minor differences in emphasis, essentially the same as various bits of Obama's existing foreign policy.
  • Item 7 can be safely ignored. In the video of his Boca Raton fundraiser, Romney made it pretty clear that he thinks a Palestinian state is a lost cause.
  • Items 8-10 specify genuine differences with Obama.

Aside from a return to George Bush levels of bluster, then, Romney plans to outsource our policy toward Israel to Benjamin Netanyahu. He'll take a defense budget that's already fantastically higher than any other country in the world and add a couple trillion dollars to it. And he'll supply arms to the rebels in Syria. 

Will he close Guantanamo? End drone strikes? Issue an executive order banning the assassination of U.S. citizens overseas? Speak up against torture? Reform the military tribunal process? Nope. He appears to think everything is hunky dory on those fronts.

Bottom line: Romney will buy more ships, never disagree with Benjamin Netanyahu, and arm the Syrian rebels. If you're impressed by that, I'd guess that Romney's your man. I'd also guess that you're easily impressed.

UPDATE: Fred Kaplan is even less impressed than I was: "Mitt Romney has delivered a lot of dishonest speeches in recent months, but Monday’s address on foreign policy may be the most mendacious yet." More detail — much more — here.

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