‘If America Doesn’t Lead, Others Will’

With that simple declaration in his foreign-policy speech at VMI, Mitt Romney demonstrated that he lives firmly in the [ahem] “reality-based community.” There are few indisputably true geopolitical statements, but politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and others have already rushed to fill the voids left by a President Obama’s hope-based, timid, and naive foreign policy.

If America weakens, it’s worth noting who will grow stronger in power and influence. In the Middle East, it’s jihadist Iran and Muslim Brotherhood–dominated Egypt. In Eastern Europe and parts of Southwest Asia, it’s Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea would be hard-pressed to balance the power of an aggressive China. None of those countries are our friends.  

With his speech, Governor Romney demonstrated that he understands a central truth of the last 200+ years of American history: American weakness harms us, and it harms the world. Tyranny prospers when America is weak. Americans die when America is weak. At the same time that he acknowledged these realities, Governor Romney also noted another undeniable truth: Americans are weary of war. But he also understands that peace can never be unilaterally declared if our enemies persist in fighting. Peace takes all parties; war takes only one. Thus it is imperative that we constantly remind Americans why we fight.

By stating these truths, Governor Romney built on his debate success by drawing a sharp philosophical contrast with President Obama just as the President’s hope-based foreign policy implodes before our very eyes.  

The day after last week’s debate, Rush Limbaugh made an excellent point: Conservatives win when we make the our case simply and effectively — especially when contrasted with such a fresh example of liberal failure. The same reality holds true for foreign policy. Simply put, we win the argument when we contrast the need for strength with the fresh consequences of apology and hope-based failure.  

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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