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Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy Platform

A Standard Littany Of Issues


Mitt Romney's Foreign Policy Platform

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney works the crowd at a primary rally in South Carolina on January 21, 2012.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Updated January 22, 2012

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential candidate, has spent most of his campaign focusing on United States domestic issues. That's probably normal given the lasting effects of the Great Recession.

But presidential hopefuls must position themselves in the foreign policy arena as well. Romney has spent little time on his foreign policy platform. In fact, his policy initiatives seem little different from those that incumbent President Barack Obama is following.

Having served only as a governor, Romney has no foreign policy experience. Plus, he has made only one real foreign policy speech, that at The Citadel in October 2011.

As such -- unfortunately -- Romney's own website gives the best idea of his foreign policies. Here's a brief look.

Main Areas Of Concern

Romney lists five major areas of U.S. foreign policy concern:

  • Nations With Rising Ambitions: Romney and his team cite Russia and China as examples of those countries. His website maintains that those countries could "contribute significantly to the health of an international system built on economic and political freedom." He counters, though, that the "authoritarian character" of Russia and China causes them to "engage in behavior that undermines international security.
  • Radical Islamic Jihadism: Romney describes it as a "multifaceted challenge" that "poses a direct terror threat to our homeland and to our allies.
  • Struggle For The Greater Middle East: Romney says "it contains states too weak to police or protect themselves," plus it's the "world's primary flash point for nuclear proliferation." Of course, that means Iran, which is worrying the West with its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The region also includes Israel, which Romney famously accused Obama of "throwing under the bus" last May. Romney made the comment after Obama suggested Israel ultimately would have to accept a physical Palestinian state, perhaps based on pre-1967 Six-Day War borders. Israel -- and Romney -- maintain that such a plan would compromise Israel's security.
  • Failed and Failing States: Romney describes them as breeding grounds for "terrorists, pirates, and other kinds of criminal networks." His chief examples of such states are Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
  • Rogue Nations:Romney's list includes the usual suspects -- Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Romney's Guiding Principles

Romney builds his foreign policy platform on four "guiding principles." They are:

  • Clarity and Resolve: Romney says U.S. allies and enemies "will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests . . . ."
  • Promote Shared U.S. Values: Romney wants to promote what he calls an "international system" conducive to "open markets, representative government, and respect for human rights.
  • Use Both Hard and Soft Power: Romney says he will never take military force off the table in international conflict, but before he resorts to force he will "employ all the tools of statecraft to shape the outcome" of events.
  • Show Leadership in Multilateral Organizations: Romney wants the United States to lead in multilateral entities, such as the United Nations, but he vows to reserve the right of American unilateral action.

Restoring The Foundation of U.S. Power

Romney says he will accomplish his foreign policy goals by restoring what he calls the "three foundations of American power: "strong values, a strong economy, and a strong military."

Romney fails to describe exactly what America's "strong values" are (except to reiterate his rhetoric about economic and political freedom, plus multilateral action), or how he would restore them.

Romney charges that Obama is creating a "hollow force" by cutting nearly $350 billion from American military budgets over the next decade. Romney claims he will set a defense spending floor of 4% of the gross domestic product; build 15 instead of nine naval ships per year (part of what he calls restoring U.S. "naval credibility;" modernize all other branches of the military; and build a "robust, multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system to [protect] against nuclear attacks on our homeland and our allies."

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