Much has been said already — on both sides of the aisle — about Governor Romney’s foreign policy speech yesterday. Supporters laud the governor’s forceful defense of American leadership and appreciate his pointed criticism of President Obama’s rudderless foreign policy. Critics claim Romney’s forceful tone is merely a return to former president George W. Bush–style “cowboy” foreign policy, oversimplifying a complicated grey world in black and white terms.
For my money, it was an excellent speech that made a strong case for American leadership in the world. And after watching the speech and subsequent coverage, I think the discussion revolves around one central question: What truly provokes opposition from America’s potential adversaries? Is it American strength or weakness? Which disposition is most “provocative” to our enemies?
President Obama and the Left believe a more modest American presence in the world leads to less provocation, and therefore less violence against America. By diminishing America’s role, refusing to name the enemy, and reducing defense spending, the president believes he will reduce the likelihood of current conflict, turn down the temperature from radical enemies, and limit America’s desire to respond forcefully to looming threats.
However, as recent events have shown us, none of these positions reduces the threat America faces. America is still engaged throughout the world, and the enemy will still attack where they can. Regardless of what we call them or whether we attempt to ignore them, radical Islamists still seek to destroy America. And taking a “meat axe” to the DOD budget (to use Defense Secretary Panetta’s words), only means we’re less prepared to respond to future attacks.