Thinking Aloud: No, Mitt, a Bigger Military Isn’t the Solution to Everything

Sept. 5, 2014 by Darius 

How would US foreign policy look if Obama had lost his bid for reelection?  It’s not an idle question.  Fortunately, it’s not entirely unanswerable: Mitt Romney is still very much around.  In fact, he wrote an op-ed in today’s Washington Post outlining part of his foreign policy vision.  It’s important to see what the other choice was.

Romney’s piece was written to argue for a stronger US military and especially an end to cuts in the military budget.  On his way to constructing his argument, Romney hits all the usual neocon buttons: more weaponry is better (still counting nukes? really?), the US has a special obligation to rule the world, strength is tantamount to swagger, etc.  (No, it is not actually true that “America’s disproportionate strength holds tyrants in check and preserves the sovereignty of nations.”)  He’s got random listings of conflict zones around the world paired with random listings of how “weak” the US military now is, without ever bothering to answer such pertinent questions as how having a bigger military with more ships and missiles actually supports our foreign policy objectives in the world as it currently exists (as opposed to 1960), or to take two of his examples, what the number of soldiers in uniform matters to US strategy vis-à-vis ISIS or Ukraine.

Above all, Romney throws out loads and loads of slippery slope arguments and strawmen.  Here’s a paragraph in full: “Some argue that the US should simply withdraw its military strength from the world—get out of the Middle East, accept nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere, let China and Russia have their way with their neighbors and watch from the sidelines as jihadists storm on two or three continents.  Do this, they contend, and the United States will be left alone.”  There’s even the obligatory reference to 9/11 as an example of what happens if the US lets its guard down (not that Romney bothers explaining how increasing the size of the US military would help with intelligence and communication blunders of the kind that allowed 9/11).

President Obama’s foreign policy is a long way from perfect – although the last week saw quiet movement on several fronts, everything from a strike against al-Shabaab’s leadership in Somalia to a new surveillance drone base in Niger to an integrated NATO cyberdefense plan to showing new backbone in criticizing Israel’s settlement plans to negotiating a coalition of NATO partners to coordinate responses to ISIS.  And Mitt Romney himself is a decent man.  But eight years of neocon stupidity running foreign policy wrecked large regions of the world and most of America’s international standing.  Eight more years of that with a President Romney would have been a disaster.  Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Romney.

To read the whole op-ed, see

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