Foreign policies and affairs, while not given the same level of attention that the economy has seen this election year, are an integral topic under which the candidates must be examined. President Obama has distinguished himself as a moderate in terms of foreign policies, taking actions that have been deemed strong and respectable by both liberals and conservatives. Romney, on the other hand, has a history of offending and disregarding allies and enemies and, through his all-too-well-known foot-in-mouth syndrome, has very clearly separated himself as the less professional and less respected candidate internationally.
With his first term in office, as both The New York Times and The Huffington Post report, President Obama has brought an end to the war in Iraq and has begun efforts to wind down the American presence in Afghanistan. He intervened in Libya to remove Dictator Muammar Gadaffi from power with a minimal financial cost and not a single American casualty. He also formed an even closer defense connection with Israel all while continuing to pressure for Israeli concessions to Palestine, a move that has brought an overwhelming amount of support for Obama among the Israeli public, which has put pressure on its government to refer to Obama for advice before making any military action towards Palestine. The president has also made China a clear focus of his attention, challenging the Chinese government on human rights violations, trade warfare, and economic spying.
In regards to President Obama’s foreign policies, Stewart J. Lawrence, a public policy analyst for The Huffinton Post, writes, “By any reasonable standard, Obama’s first-term foreign policy record is nothing short of astounding. On issue after issue, Obama has shown a steady—indeed, steely—resolve that has earned him major kudos from foreign policy specialists in both parties.”
In congruence with Lawrence’s point are countless other political advisors, both liberal and conservative. Robert Kagan, national security advisor to John McCain’s 2008 campaign and an advisor to Mitt Romney himself, has frequently praised Obama’s foreign policies, particularly in regards to Asia.
Given that the President has vast support in regards to his foreign policy from all sides of the political spectrum, it should come as no shock that he is being widely viewed as the more solid candidate in terms of foreign relations. Obama’s approval rating in terms of foreign issues has been held steadily high according to Gallup and CNN polls. In fact, a recent Fox News poll showed the president with a 15 percent lead over Romney in terms of his favorability in regards to foreign policy.
Now, let us move on to Romney’s less-than-stunning foreign affairs experience. Over the summer, Romney tried to present himself to the world by taking a political tour of several countries, where he quickly learned that he is in no way the favorite candidate internationally. First, Romney visited London during the Summer Olympics to show, as he put it in a CNN interview, his “stewardship of the games.” However, as The Washington Post reports, Romney was greeted in London by newspaper and magazine headlines reading, “Mitt the Twit” and “Who Invited Party-Pooper Romney?” due to an insensitive comment he had made in which he stated that it was “hard to know just how well [the London Olympics] will turn out. There were a few things that were disconcerting.”
Furthering his struggle in the international community, Romney visited Israel—a country which, as I mentioned previously, highly values President Obama and his foreign policies. During his visit, Romney commented at a fundraiser that Israel has prospered more than the Palestinians because it is a “superior culture.” The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker wrote of the appallingly insensitive comment, “The quote, which got picked up in the Associated Press newswire, was quickly condemned by Palestinian officials who said that they believed it suggested Romney was racist.”
The proverbial nail in Romney’s foreign policy coffin came on Sept. 11, when a terrorist attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. While the White House released statements sympathizing with families and friends of those lost in the attack, Romney released a statement that read, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions.” Romney, as the New York Daily News reported, immediately came under fire as political and exploitive for using the loss of American lives to try to make a backhanded comment towards the Obama administration. Needless to say, Romney’s approval rating dropped between five and seven points after his comment, as Politico and Gallup Tracking Polls reported.
Polling, news reports and comments from liberal and conservative politicians and advisors make a clear and undeniable statement that President Obama is the ideal candidate in terms of foreign policy. The president has made it clear that his policies and his actions are the best course of action, which can be easily seen in the positive response he receives in the international community. Romney, on the other hand, has given the international community more than enough evidence to both distrust and dislike him. When push comes to shove in terms of foreign policy, there isn’t even a contest between the candidates.
By AJ Simmons