Part of the trouble assessing how Mitt Romney would be as a President is his lack of international affairs policy. That’s why it is important to listen and consider what his camp says in response to the attacks on the US embassy in Libya that killed five, including the US Ambassador to Libya yesterday.
Romney was immediately critical of how the Obama Administration handled the Embassy attacks. His criticism was in reference to a statement released by the American Embassy in Cairo condemning an American-made web film denouncing Islam – which was the catalyst for the protests and ensuing violence in Egypt and Libya.
But the statement didn’t come from the Obama Administration, it came from the US State Department in an attempt to mitigate an inflammatory American video that went viral on YouTube a few days ago. Setting aside this obvious blunder, let’s consider Romney’s international stance given his distaste for the State Department’s decision to apologize for the anti-Islam video in question.
As US embassy policy goes, diplomacy usually trumps polarizing statements. This isn’t surprising – particularly when you’re housed deep within a state where relations are shaky. So it is not surprising – and seems both appropriate and tactful – for the US to issue an apology when an American anti-Islam film angers the Muslim community abroad – as happened yesterday. If forced to confront and respond to this type of conflict, what would be the best respond for the United States to have. As Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast aptly points out – Does Romney think the administration should have defended the film itself? Does Romney?.
Romney’s responses to yesterday’s attacks in Libya indicate that as President he would enact policies that would view international US apologies as a sign of American weakness abroad. Romney seems convinced that by apologizing to the world for aspects of America we are not proud of we have hurt our standing abroad under Obama. Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, Rich Williamson, had this to say about the attacks – as they were still ongoing: “The events in Egypt and Libya show the failure of the Egyptian and Libyan governments to uphold their obligations to keep our diplomatic missions safe and secure and the regard in which the United States is held under President Obama in these two countries.”
It is disconcerting to see Mitt Romney’s campaign turn a jolting international crisis for the US into a political attack on President Obama’s international track record. Even more concerning is that as President, Mitt Romney would continue the one-sided Neo-Conservative policies of George Bush Jr. which are still straining US relations abroad four years after those policies have been discarded by the current administration.