Mitt Romney wants the United States to get much tougher with Iran and to end what a top adviser calls President Barack Obama’s “Mother, may I?” consensus-seeking foreign policy.
With the presidential nomination all but locked up, an examination of Romney’s foreign policy pronouncements and the team advising him on those issues indicates Americans and the world might expect a Republican campaign that reprises the hawkish and often unilateral foreign policy prescriptions that guided Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
“The world is better off when the United States takes the lead. We should not be playing `Mother, may I?’ about sanctions on Iran and relations with China and Russia,” said Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser. He has advised presidents beginning with Reagan, held many diplomatic posts in past Republican administrations and was Bush’s special envoy to Sudan.
The hot partisan fight over the economy so far has overshadowed Romney’s grievances with the Obama foreign policy. And polls show the longer the former Massachusetts governor can stay away from a detailed debate on international affairs; the better it may be for his candidacy.
The most recent Washington Post-ABC News survey found that Americans trust Obama over Romney on international affairs, 53 percent to 36 percent. For Americans still gun-shy after the difficult war in Iraq and eager to be done with the prolonged and messy fight in Afghanistan - both conflicts started under Bush - Romney’s hawkish-sounding policies could prove damaging in the November election.
Even so, Romney will campaign, Williamson said, as the man who can return the United States to a country that ensures “peace through strength rather than just managing the gradual decline of our military strength.”
Romney is particularly harsh on Obama’s handling of Iran and concerns it may be building a nuclear weapon. The president is clearly trying to head off a threatened Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations.