It is time to have a talk about the red-headed stepchild of the 2012 election: foreign policy. Even though the dismal economy has eclipsed international affairs, an array of important questions must be addressed.
First, do we want to continue the 11-year-old war in Afghanistan? Second, do we want to continue to spend $25 billion a year to prosecute a bloody and feckless war on drugs? And finally, do we want to put ourselves knee deep in Syria’s civil war?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then I’ve got a couple of candidates you might like to hear about. Both of them agree that four more years of war will be good for the country. Writing for “The American Conservative,” Rod Dreher correctly dubbed this the “Obamney foreign policy” debate.
President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney seem to have no significant differences on foreign affairs. On the war in Afghanistan, Romney backed Obama’s 2009 order to deploy 33,000 more troops and both candidates have said that they are willing to stay in the country beyond the 2014 deadline for withdrawal.
On the drug war at home, Obama has taken President George W. Bush’s drug policy and put it on steroids. In a pre-presidency interview with Oregon newspaper Mail Tribune, Obama said, “I’m not going to use Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
However, Obama’s Department of Justice has raided four times as many medical marijuana dispensaries as Bush’s did in two terms.
Romney has no desire to distinguish himself on the drug war either. In an interview with CBS News, Romney was asked about Colorado’s Amendment 64, a ballot initiative to make marijuana subject to the same regulations as alcohol. Romney said, “I think marijuana should not be legal in this country.”
Despite our numerous current military entanglements, neither candidate has ruled out the possibility of stepping into another international conflict.
Obama has threatened to attack Syria if it so much as moves its unconventional weapons. Romney has said he’ll do the same.
“I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists,” said Romeny in an August interview with CBS News.
The contrast between Obama and his Republican rivals was much starker in the last presidential election. Obama ran as the guy who opposed the highly unpopular war in Iraq from its outset. His opponent, John McCain (R-AZ), was perhaps the most interventionist candidate in recent history.
Even though Obama capitalized on the antiwar fever of 2008, he has not hesitated to flex American military muscle from the deserts of Libya to the Pacific Rim.
Ironically, just nine days after announcing the deployment of 33,000 troops to Afghanistan, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In his acceptance speech, he made a declaration of war against the world, saying, “I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this, the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it… I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds.”
In essence, Obama believes he has the right to militarily intervene in any country that is not behaving in a “humanitarian” nature, even if it is not in our national interest, and even if it could cost the U.S. precious blood and treasure.
Romney’s desire to intervene in Syria suggests that he would behave in the same manner.
These two indistinguishable foreign policies might lead one to believe that Americans have an insatiable appetite for war. However, polls suggest the opposite. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 69 percent of Americans thought we should not be at war in Afghanistan any longer. In a CNN poll, 60 percent said that we have no responsibility to intervene in Syria.
This is not to suggest that we should be disengaged from the world. We must be friendly with other nations and trade with them, but we also must guard ourselves against real international dangers, like a nuclear-armed Iran.
The people want, and the times demand, an intervention skeptic in the White House. The world is a dangerous place and we must be alert to international threats, but we can’t afford to be the world’s policeman if we already have a weak economy and $16 trillion debt.