RSS
Foreign policy: Would Romney and Obama govern differently?
Liberals worry that Romney is a dangerous hawk. Conservatives charge that Obama is a feckless weakling. But the candidates may be more similar than either side admits
Mitt Romney's camp says President Obama has been content to "lead from behind" on foreign policy issues, such as the conflict in Libya.
Mitt Romney's camp says President Obama has been content to "lead from behind" on foreign policy issues, such as the conflict in Libya.
Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
A

fter a string of successes abroad — most notably authorizing the killing of Osama bin Laden last year — polls show that President Obama has an edge over his Republican challenger when it comes to foreign policy. But that isn't stopping Mitt Romney from attacking Obama's record on international affairs. The former Massachusetts governor has called the president out for being weak and naive in his dealings with foreign adversaries from North Korea to Russia to Libya to Iran. But there's a big difference between campaign rhetoric and actual governance. If Romney were to win the White House, how would his foreign policy stances differ from Obama's?

Romney would be dangerously hawkish: If Romney is elected, "the rebooting of the global religious war would be instant," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. He'd likely go to war with Iran, and "possibly escalate again in Afghanistan." Russia would become an open adversary, and the use of torture could make a comeback. In short, all of the progress we've made easing tensions overseas after George W. Bush's decade of war would vanish.
"Does it matter who wins in November?"

Actually, Romney would correct Obama's many mistakes: "Obama's foreign policy has, if possible, been more damaging than his domestic policies," says Ben Shapiro at The Patriot Post. For instance, the president has made "dramatic attempts to undercut Israel on taking out the Iranian nuclear program," siding with "his hard-left" allies against "an American public largely friendly to Israel." If Romney can effectively explain how sharply he'll change course, he just might win in November.
"Can Mitt Romney win?"

Romney and Obama are more similar than you think: In 2008, Obama promised to reverse George W. Bush's terror-war policies, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, but the rhetoric faded once he was "privy to the intelligence briefings that the president receives." Something similar would probably happen once Romney received that sobering intel, too. Presidents govern under the strains of reality. That's why, in the end, U.S. foreign policy is "really well set." You can bet a Romney victory would mean "continuity rather than radical change."
"Obama And Romney: A dime's worth of difference on foreign policy?"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week