Douthat, Obama and Romney

From NYTimes, where you can read all four of Ross Douthat’s points about “In Search of a Middle East Strategy“:

Who do you think is offering the most plausible proposals for the Middle East?

But of course it isn’t clear at all what Mitt Romney would actually do differently. Since their Tuesday night jab backfired, the Romney campaign has tried to flesh a more substantive critique of Obama’s foreign policy, but the actual differences seem to be less substantial than the posturing suggests. Team Romney would put more pressure on Egypt’s new president (which the White House is currently trying to do), extend more aid to Syria’s rebels (but, like the White House, stop short of arming them), find unspecified ways to ramp up our commitment to the new Libyan government (which the White House is already committed too), and draw a red line on Iran’s nuclear program that would differ from the White House’s current line in, well, as-yet-unspecified ways. In a best-case scenario, a Romney foreign policy might be more hardheaded and less shot through with wishful thinking than the current administration’s posture; in a worst-case scenario, it would blunder more deeply into messes where we’re already enmeshed, substituting the rhetoric of toughness for actual clarity of purpose and chest-thumping for finesse. Either way, though, it’s hard to discern a genuine alternative Middle Eastern strategybetween the lines the Romney talking points. Which means that American voters are facing the same choice on foreign policy that they face on domestic issues: The incumbent’s approach isn’t working, but the challenger isn’t giving us much reason to be confident that he knows what we should do instead.

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  • C.J.W.

    I don’t see solutions coming from biblical or theological scholars either, but man can they critique.

  • Joel

    I think there is room to criticize some of Obama’s decisions. But the way Republicans flippantly act as if the decisions Obama is presented with are so easy and it’s so obvious what the proper course is, this “all the problems would be solved if our guy were in the office attitude”, is really offputting.

  • scotmcknight

    CJW, one policy that I would support is that we do not enter anyone’s country without that country’s invitation and under their terms. So much of the hostility emerges from our unilateral acts. And our financial support for partisan groups in countries exacerbates problems more than helps. Witness Afghanistan.

    The days of post WW2 American policing of the nations are over.

  • C.J.W.

    I will not say you are wrong or right. What I will say is that your response seems very simplistic.

  • Patrick

    I wish we had the same middle east strategy the Swiss have. In fact, I wish we had the same Asian, European and South American strategy the Swiss have.

    We could learn from the Swiss. It pays to mind your own business.