Sunday, October 21, 2012

Debate preview

As discussed yesterday, there is agreement between Obama and Romney on many areas of foreign policy.  But it would be a boring debate if they just talked about how much they agreed about things, so let's take a look at where they differ.

-Under current law/projections, military spending is slated to fall to 2.4% of GDP by 2022.  Romney proposes to put in a floor for military spending of 4%.  1.6% of today's economy is about $240 billion, which is a shitload of money.  I'll be very interested to hear Romney try to argue for such massive spending without lapsing into either military Keynesianism or General Turgidson levels of parody.

-Romney seems to buy the conservative talking point that the problem with Obama's foreign policy is that he doesn't accept that we're in some sort of death struggle with radical Islamofascism, or whatever.  This is the context behind Romney's failed attack at the last debate about Obama supposedly not calling the Benghazi attack "terrorism" for a couple weeks.  It turns out of course that the CIA was in fact telling the administration that the attack was related to anger over the anti-Islam video, but it fits the conservative narrative better if Obama was making excuses for his Muslim brothers.  Romney will hopefully have the maturity to acknowledge that his attack was wrong, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

-There is a clear contrast on how Romney and Obama react to unexpected events.  Former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke discusses how it's often impossible to know exactly what happened right after a chaotic event like a terrorist attack.  He points out several examples like the explosion of TWA Flight 800 or the attack on the USS Cole, where the true story wasn't known for weeks.  Romney, in his press release dispatched before we knew that Ambassador Stevens was killed, much less why/how he was killed, launched right into an anti-Obama attack.  He couldn't fathom that Obama wouldn't yet know what had really happened, so linking the attack to the anti-Islam video must have been, to Romney's mind, a callow political move by the White House.  He had stated in his secretly-recorded fundraiser comments (the same event as the 47% gem) that he would be ready to "take advantage" of a foreign policy crisis.  His entire approach to foreign policy reeks of crass opportunism, lashing out at Obama before any facts are known.


Drk said...

How can there be any foreign policy discussion more I portent than this one?

NWest said...

You Can't Hug Children with Nuclear Arms!