Candidates Offer Similar Foreign Policy Visions
October 26, 2012
As voters in the United States prepare to cast ballots in the
presidential election on November 6, people around the globe wonder how
the outcome could shape the world.
The presidential candidates offered similar visions of the U.S. role in
global affairs during their final debate.
"America remains the one indispensable nation. And the world needs a
strong America, and it is stronger now than when I came into office,"
said President Barack Obama.
"We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to
end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible. But in order to be
able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong," said
Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The U.S. might look more militaristic under Romney, said Daniel Serwer
of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in
"He has made it clear that projection of strength would be a real
priority, and one of the fundamental differences between the two
candidates is the degree to which they are willing to continue funding
defense build-up," said Serwer.
Romney has pledged to increase defense spending, if elected. But he
agreed with Obama on plans to withdraw U.S. combat troops from
Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Eye on Iran
They also agree on the use of sanctions to prevent Iran from pursuing a
nuclear weapon, and they say military strikes remain an option to
counter that threat. Both have pledged to support Israel if it is
Romney has said, if elected, his first foreign trip would be to Israel.
He suggested Obama has alienated the Jewish state.
"You went to the Middle East, and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia
and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest
friend in the region," said Romney.
Obama countered that the debate was on the eve of the largest U.S. and
Israeli military exercise in history.
Overall, the candidates offer similar foreign policy proposals, said
"Beyond rhetoric, I think the major difference is on this question of
arms to the Syrian rebels," said Serwer.
Syrian security forces and opposition fighters have battled since the
uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March of
2011. Romney favors providing weapons to the rebels.
"I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to
defend themselves, but also to remove Assad. But I do not want to see a
military involvement on the part of our troops," said Romney.
Obama offers a more cautious response.
"For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and
we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are
helping; that we are not putting arms in the hands of folks who
eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region," said
who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, will have a personal mission if
he is re-elected, said political analyst Robert Guttman.
"He will be looking for his legacy. It may not be [peace in] the Middle
East; it may be better relations with China, but it will be something,"
China is on Romney's mind. He said he would designate China a "currency
manipulator," a label that could lead to sanctions. The Republican
candidate's corporate background could influence his leadership, said
"He wants to expand American business. I think he would be a president
more involved with trade matters, more involved with business," said
Analysts say voters are more concerned with domestic issues, such as the
economy, than foreign policy plans.