Tag Archives: Republican Nominations

Romney & Iran: Continuity Or Change?

Symmetry exists between Romney and Obama on the issue of military involvement: both are committed potential military solutions within the Islamic Republic.

[dhr]

[dhr]

In the Washington Post earlier this month, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerryweighed in on the Republican nomination race, responding to a foreign policy piece written by Mitt Romney a few days earlier. Kerry described Romney’s policy on Iran as both ‘inaccurate’ and ‘aggressive’, and accused him of imagining problems with the President Obama’s current policy that do not really exist in order to generate support from the Republican base.

Romney’s campaign trail rhetoric thus far confirms that he is making every effort to appeal to core Republican voters by distancing himself from the current President. The enthusiasm he expressed last year for an ‘American Century’, combined with his readiness to accuse Obama of ‘apologising for America’, suggests a considerable renascence of exceptionalist Republicanism. Indeed, in the article to which Kerry was responding, Romney compared himself to former Republican President Ronald Reagan, promising to revive a Cold War-style foreign policy of ‘peace through strength’.

More interestingly, the article reiterates a number of Romney’s core policy aims surrounding Iran. Romney says that he ‘will press for ever-tightening sanctions’ against Iran, supporting the statement on his website that he will implement ‘a fifth round of sanctions targeted at the financial resources that underpin the Iranian regime.’ As Kerry points out, this declaration seems to brush aside the previous four rounds of sanctions, which have restricted Iran’s finances and nuclear programme, banned its arms exports, implemented cargo inspections and prevented the country from buying heavy weaponry and military vehicles. All this, in addition to the European Union’s oil embargo on Iran announced in January this year, suggests that Romney’s sanction pledge represents an intensification of current US policy, rather than the kind of change Romney claims to want. Romney’s website goes so far as to praise the current President ‘for pushing for a fourth round of international sanctions on Iran early in his term’ despite the Republican frontrunner himself commenting early in March this year that Obama ‘has failed to put into place crippling sanctions against Iran.’ These conflicting statements suggest that Romney’s policies on Iran depend greatly on which crowd he is speaking to.

There are areas in which Romney is more consistent with his criticism of Obama’s policy, however. In a debate last year, Romney said that the President’s ‘greatest failing from a foreign policy stand point’ has been his failure to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions, adding: ‘If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.’ More specifically, Romney’s website says that Obama should have supported popular opposition within Iran in 2009, labelling his restraint as ‘a disgraceful abdication of American moral authority.’ The current President has remained reluctant over the issue of internal opposition to the regime in Iran, responding to renewed protest in early 2011 by saying: ‘Each country is different, each country has its own traditions, and America can’t dictate what happens in these societies.’ However, commentators, including as the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson, have suggested that this reluctance underpins Obama’s argument that the legitimacy of regime change relies on the independent, internal desire for change, rather than the external influences of the United States.

Romney has also accused Obama of failing ‘to communicate that military options are on the table,’ explaining in his Washington Post article that he ‘will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.’ However, in a recent interview for the Atlantic magazine, President Obama said that US policy in Iran includes political, economic and diplomatic elements, but also ‘a military component’, adding that ‘as President of the United States, I don’t bluff.’ These examples demonstrate a considerable degree of symmetry between Romney and Obama on the issue of military involvement, with both individuals committed to diplomatic and potential military solutions to the problems of Iran.

Given his commitment to sanctions and his fusion of diplomacy with military action, it appears that Mitt Romney is by no means advocating a shift away from the current administration’s policy, no matter how much distance he attempts to put between himself and the President.

Romney’s Bogus Claims About Obama’s Foreign Policy

Romney’s attacks on Obama have been disingenuous and are unlikely to have much sway over independent voters.

[dhr]

[dhr]

Mitt Romney’s biggest critique of Barack Obama has been that the President has been apologizing for America since he took office. Romney is so enamored with the idea that he even titled his book No Apology. But is the charge actually true?

Numerous fact-checkers have looked at the charge and found it wanting. If you look at the specific examples that conservatives cite, such as this list from the conservative Human Events, it would be a stretch to call them apologies. The word ‘sorry’ doesn’t appear anywhere, which is clearly a crucial component of an apology. And it’s not unusual for a president to want to set a different tone to a predecessor, especially if they’re from a different party. George W. Bush did this when he came to office and promised no more nation-building in an effort to set himself apart from Bill Clinton.

At the most Obama has said that his predecessor made mistakes. This isn’t an opinion that’s outside the mainstream. Many Americans, and people from around the world would agree that President Bush made major mistakes, such as invading Iraq. Speeches such as the famous one in Cairo in 2009 weren’t about apologizing for America, they were to signal that under Obama America was going to be different. This was absolutely necessary. Under Bush the world’s opinion of America dropped precipitously. America needs the support of people overseas if it needs to achieve its objectives. For instance, Obama has been more successful than Bush in gaining international support for sanctions on Iran. Russia, India and EU members have been more supportive on sanctions than they were under Bush. Part of this is because Obama is more popular than Bush was in those countries (especially in Europe), which makes it easier for their governments to go along with America.

So why do Republicans keep using the ‘apology’ line?  It’s part of a comprehensive effort to paint Obama as an anti-American radical who is ashamed of his country. While these arguments may be effective with the conservative base of the Republican Party, it’s a pretty ridiculous idea.

Republicans also don’t have a lot to work with when it comes to attacking the President’s foreign policy, an area where the GOP has historically had an advantage over Democrats. Obama’s ongoing withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan have broad popular support. With Iraq the Status of Forces Agreement that paved the way for withdraw was signed by his predecessor, Obama was just carrying it out. In other areas he has also been remarkably consistent with Bush, much to the chagrin of his liberal supporters. On counter-terrorism Obama has continued Bush’s policies, such as indefinite detention. On the use of drone strikes he has actually been more aggressive than Bush. He has greatly expanded them in Pakistan, and even signed off on a successful strike against an American citizen who had become a radical cleric in Yemen.

With Iran, Obama has been more aggressive in trying to prevent the Islamic state from becoming a nuclear power. He has worked with allies to impose increasingly stringent sanctions on Iranian oil and the economy. Despite hiccups in the relationship with Israel, intelligence cooperation between the two countries has never been greater, and the US keeps supplying Israel with more impressive weaponry and technology (including possibly the Stuxnet virus). Despite the rhetoric, there is actually little difference between Romney and Obama on the Iranian issue.

Mitt Romney needs to come up with more effective attacks on Obama’s foreign policy. Thus far they have been disingenuous, and are unlikely to have much sway over independent voters Romney will need to attract in the general election.

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Next President of the United States Is… Ron Paul

Why the most important Republican nominee for the 2012 elections is the one you’ve probably never heard of.

[dhr]

[dhr]

Let us begin with a test: how many 2012 Republican candidates can you name? The sure favourite Romney; Gaff prone Perry; Pizza king Cain; Tea Partier Bachman; the unfortunately named Santorum maybe? How about Texas Libertarian Ron Paul?

There is a famous dictum by Mahatma Gandhi saying “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” This dictum was famously used in Paul’s 2008 nomination campaign and again now, though if could you not name him in the quiz above, then it seems he’s still stuck on the first stage of Gandhi’s quote. It should come as no surprise that you may not have heard of him. If you speak to any follower of Paul, they will claim that the mainstream media is purposely ignoring the 76 year-old Texan.

Indeed, if you observe the major media outlets, one can perhaps concur with such an accusation. During most of the televised GOP debates it was hard to tell if Paul was even there with the little amount of attention he was given. For instance, at the latest two and a half hour long CBS News debate the Congressman was give just 89 seconds to answer his only question; and was not even allowed to finish at that. A study conducted by the Pew Research Centre Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that from May 2nd to October 9th of this year, Paul only appeared in two per-cent of all elections stories. The weekly publication The Economist, which champions itself in propagating a limited government agenda, has also ignored the campaign trail of the libertarian.

You may be wondering why this matters. After all, there are other candidates that are not given the same limelight as say Romney, Perry or Cain. True, but unlike his neo-conservative rivals, Paul is perhaps the most important candidate running. The reason why he is such an important candidate is because he is so far removed from his republican fellows. So much so that he makes tea partiers such as Bachman appear socialist. Indeed, Judge Napolitano, the presenter of Freedom Watch called Paul “the Thomas Jefferson of our day.”

In essence, he is an enemy of the state; Paul is a libertarian of the constitutionalist sort. He believes that government should be strictly restricted to the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution.  Though placing precedence of local government over lager government, Paul asserts that notion of personal freedom and individual responsibility. Taxes should be kept to an absolute minimum. Ultimately, the government has no legitimacy or authority over Americans unless, of course, there is a threat to freedom. Paul does have some congruence with the Republican Party, such as being anti-abortion (though for freedom rather than religious reasons) and taking a strong anti-monetary policy stance. But some of his proposals do touch a nerve with his party. He advocates free trade and the use of marijuana, and strongly holds a non-interventionist foreign policy. He is against all forms of torture, unlike his Republican rivals who see it as necessary to gain information on supposed terrorist attacks in Americans. Rather than having a heavy military presence both home and abroad (despite being an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War), the Texan argues that diplomacy and free trade are far more effective and moral tactics. In fact, he believes that the cause of most hostilities towards America is because of its military presence.

Such a viewpoint has made him few friends. Those who have followed the debates will remember the infamous photo of Rick Perry apparently threatening Paul during an ad break. The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called Paul’s foreign policy “dangerous stuff if you have power.” Nevertheless, whether the political elites like it or not, Paul has had a direct influence on American politics. In 2009 Paul wrote the bestseller End the Fed which heavily criticised the use of monetary policy in American and called for the Federal Reserve to be abolished. Prior to the book’s publication there was hardly any discussion about the Fed in either party. Now, with the worsening economic condition both globally and domestically, more questions are being asked about the usefulness of the central bank, with other Republican candidates now suggesting they would reform the Fed if they won the presidency.

In spite of the apparent media blacklist with Paul’s name on it, the congressman does possess a strong and resilient, though small, following. Since the start of the debates Paul has held a consistent approval rating in the mid-teens. Moreover, he as the biggest amount of support from veterans than any other candidate, possibly because of his strong stance against interventionism and war. Though perhaps his biggest support comes from fellow libertarians. Despite their numbers increasing, Libertarians and minarcists in America are still a rare breed. What is more, these fellow Libertarian groups mainly use alternatives form of media as their news source and for communication. Podcasts and radio shows such as No Agenda, Anarchast and theAlex Jones Show are notable examples. These alternative news sources are strong supporters of Paul’s campaign and constitute a substantial part of his campaign fund. But these small groups are also Paul’s weakness. Because of their political beliefs, many individuals reject the elections and will not vote, even for a fellow Libertarian. One caller on the Anarchast radio show said they hope Paul wins the nomination, but would not cast their vote because it meant they consented to having a government.

As much as some wish for Paul to win the nomination and become President, most accept that he will not win. This is because of both the media blackout and the fact that many hold his beliefs as extreme and radical. And being in his late seventies, it is unlikely Paul will run again in 2016. Nevertheless, it is the writer’s conjecture that Paul knows this, and the main reason why he is running is to get propagate his message of freedom. And despite the lack of mainstream attention, more and more people are becoming enlightened by his Libertarian viewpoint. In some ways, then, he has already won.