In the upcoming 2012 presidential election, national security and foreign policy are major issues that will separate President Barack Obama from the Republican contender, most likely former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. While Obama has attempted to more closely align the United States to states like Russia, he does so at the cost of U.S. national security. In agreeing to the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Obama sacrificed the ability of the U.S. to make advancements in domestic missile defense, after already agreeing to cancel the missile defense project in Europe which would have addressed the vulnerability of American allies from emerging nuclear powers in the Middle East and Asia. While the intent of improving relations with such nations is in itself a strong position in foreign policy, it is the manner in which it is done that should raise concerns for all Americans.
The difference between Obama and Romney’s views is apparent in the attempt to develop Russian relations; Obama’s policies include dangerous concessions to Russia in areas such as missile defense, for both Europe and the U.S., while Romney’s policy resembles a strong arm tactic rightly emphasizing the U.S.’s strengths in conducting policy. Obama’s Russia Policy is based on the concept of a “reset” or fresh start. While a symbolic fresh start in relations may allow negotiations to renew at a reasonable pace, it is an action in which the executive must tread carefully. While acting in good faith is necessary to prevent a budding relationship from stalling, it must not be at the cost of the nation’s security. Several times in his presidency, Obama conceded to Russian demands on several issues that were directly related to the security of the U.S., including on the aforementioned missile defense both in Europe as well as in the U.S. under the new START agreement. In doing this, Obama hoped to forge a greater relationship with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the expense of the relationship with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will inevitably again be the next Russian president for the next 12 years. The dabbling of Obama into Russian politics by personally assaulting both Putin and a large majority of the ruling elite of Russia threatens to render any potential gains by these actions moot.
Mitt Romney’s policies are almost the exact opposite of Obama’s, in which he advocates the retention of U.S. military strength in the concept of missile defense while also undertaking an era of greater cooperation. Romney’s policy on anti-missile defense and Russian relations, unlike Obama’s, favors a long-term macro view of world politics. Unlike Obama’s policy towards Russian relations, Romney’s strong-arm policy is better suited towards long-term relations by relying upon the strength of the U.S. and emphasizing cooperation with the nation and building a relationship with Russia based on common interests, not simply personal relationships with the leadership.
Romney’s view on missile defense shows a greater understanding of the political workings of the world. While Obama leverages our missile defense programs with Russia in an attempt to deepen relations, he does so at the expense of U.S. security in an ever more dangerous world. Romney’s stance on missile defense (and consequently START) shows his understanding of U.S. national security. The Cold War is over, the world has evolved. It is no longer a world in which the threat of nuclear devastation is held by two opposing factions, but an ever increasing number of regimes including North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran. To Romney, limitations on the security of the U.S. are not an option, while U.S. security to Obama is little more than a bargaining chip.
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