Mitt Romney: Focusing on What We Can Control

The Middle East is idealism’s graveyard. The last three presidents focused to a large degree on reforming and remaking the region, and each came to grief in his own way. Bill Clinton’s attempt at a grand bargain between Israel and Palestine dissolved into the Second Intifada; George Bush’s freedom agenda met the blood-red streets of Fallujah and Tal Afar and an insurgency overcome only by the military offensives of the surge and Maliki’s iron-fisted rule; and Barack Obama arrived in the presidency believing in the power of his own personality but now faces a chaotic Middle East under ever-greater Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian influence. Enough with the idealism. 

While Governor Romney paid some lip service to Middle East idealism (it seems everyone must), his focus — by contrast with each of his predecessors — is on the things we can control: Our own strength and our relationships with our allies. American military decline doesn’t empower allies like Britain, France, Israel, South Korea, or Japan; it empowers foes and rivals like Iran, North Korea, Egypt, Russia, and China. Creating “daylight” with our allies doesn’t help bend Iran or even the Palestinian Authority to our will, it creates gaps they hope to exploit.

We can’t transform the rest of the world into liberal democracies — nor can we make anyone love us — but we can maintain our strength, and we can stand with our true allies. In fact, a great many of our most egregious foreign-policy blunders over the past decades can be traced to failures in one or both of those goals.

One final, unrelated, note: I found President Obama’s retort regarding our shrinking and aging military inventories to be grating and unpresidential. Horses and bayonets? Really? Ships, planes, and tanks do not age like fine wines, and it is a simple fact that too many of our pilots are flying aircraft older than they are, some of our soldiers are rolling into battle in armored vehicles designed in the 1970s, and ships — no matter how capable — cannot be in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Japan at the same time.

This article originally appeared on National Review Online.

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  • chas holman

    “Romney campaign stands by Mourdock”.

    Women.. For Goodness sake.. WAKE UP..

    If ever there WAS a sign from God, this would be one of them.. These ‘men’ who are completely uneducated and ignorant about a woman’s body, want to be in charge of the laws that Govern YOUR body. There is no other way to put it. Welcome to the year 1642 where science and medicine take a back seat. Don’t even dare mention the earth revolves around the sun.

    The Governor has said if he wins the Presidency that he would sign legislation if presented, that bans abortion. And you have GOP senators and Congressmen who have now said that women who get raped have no medical worries as they can’t get pregnant if they are ‘really’ raped, and now with Mourdoch, it is ‘God’s Gift’.


    Vote like YOUR life, your daughter’s life and health depends on it.. It’s not playtime anymore, they are playing for keeps and total control.Have no doubt, this is ‘the big grab’.

  • Lori Napier

    Well said, David. I appreciate your thoughtful, even-handed analysis of the Middle East situation.