Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivered an address on foreign policy on Monday morning in Lexington, Virginia, at the Virginia Military Institute, where he made the case for a Romney presidency and a Romney foreign policy. That has proven difficult, as President Obama has consistently maintained an edge among voters as to which candidate would do a better job representing the interests of the United States in the international arena. Nationally, the latest polls show Obama and Romney tied. Gallup's latest poll shows the candidates deadlocked at 47%. Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll shows Obama and Romney at 48%. Real Clear Politics indicates an aggregate poll tally dating back to September 26 that has Obama ahead by 1.1 percentage points.
The contents of Romney's speech will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the campaign. In the 25 minute speech, the Republican criticized the president on his handling of a myriad of issues. On the president's relationship with Israel, Romney said,
"The relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains. The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put 'daylight' between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran."
Romney also hit Obama for his willingness to support what has been oddly deemed "cuts" to the defense budget over the next ten years:
".... I will roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military. I will make the critical defense investments that we need to remain secure. The decisions we make today will determine our ability to protect America tomorrow. The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war."
Calling them "cuts," as even Obama himself has, is misleading. Those "cuts" are slated to take place against the backdrop of projected defense increases. So while some programs will indeed be "cut" (as programs are every single year), the Pentagon's budget will nonetheless rise over the next ten years, despite the fact that this is when the "cuts" are supposed to take place.
Romney also made a misleading statement when he said, "The President has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure." In fact, last year, Obama signed three free trade agreements, with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. However, the insertion of the modifier "new" will give Romney cover, because those negotiation on those agreements began during the Bush administration.
As expected, Romney made a case for a bigger military and more American involvement in the international arena -- an extremely aggressive and hegemonic position, given the current state of American involvement around the world. Romney has taken the default position of most Republican presidential candidates when it comes to foreign policy: more hawkish than the Democratic opposition. However, given the active and interventionist policies of Obama, Romney has pledged himself to a foreign policy of an ever-increasing military-industrial complex and endless war. Try as he might to say that the best way to win a war is to prevent it, an expansionist foreign policy only increases the opportunities for conflict.