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Romney: Right to speak up.

September 17, 2012

Romney: Right to speak up.

Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, September 24, 2012.

Once during the Vietnam War, U.S. POWs were marched in front of local citizens who “spontaneously” rose up in righteous indignation against the “imperialist aggressors” who were guilty of raping their country.

One villager, overcome by his frustration and anger, rushed out of the crowd to get in the face of one American POW to vent his outrage.

Only he flubbed his line and his acting out of his “outrage” was so wooden and affected as to be laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that U.S. servicemen were being mistreated and publicly humiliated.

That the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and, more particularly, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya are spontaneous uprisings resulting from public outrage over a YouTube video clip is equally laughable, except for the fact that four Americans were killed.

The attacks on U.S. facilities in north Africa and the Middle East are happening not because of supposed insults to the prophet Mohammed depicted in some little-known video but are happening instead because the United States is increasingly seen as a weak foe and an unreliable ally.

GOP nominee Mitt Romney had the temerity to say so following the consulate attack and for his trouble found himself on the receiving end of withering criticism from the Obama campaign and the liberal press.

But was Romney wrong to say something? Does the “politics stops at the water’s edge” proverb apply in this situation during this presidential campaign?

Foreign policy is by its nature political. I’m certain that Lyndon Johnson would have loved to have had the “water’s edge” protection against his policies in the Vietnam War. As it was, LBJ’s Vietnam War policy drove him out of the 1968 presidential race.

Certainly Jimmy Carter would have liked a “water’s edge” pass on the Iranian Hostage Crisis. He was not to be given one and should not have had one. That the hostages were released literally minutes after the man the defeated him for re-election took the oath of office is evidence enough that foreign policy is a political matter and open for debate and criticism during a political campaign.

One must believe that Mitt Romney has an entirely different vision for U.S. foreign policy than the one held by President Obama. The growing sense that Obama foreign policy is very possibly opening the door for the kind of chaos and unrest that marked the last two years of the Carter presidency is fair game during the campaign.

There should be a vigorous debate on the proper role of the United States in the world. The American people should be allowed to hear how a President Romney would differ from a President Obama. Early in his presidency, three years ago, President Obama went to Cairo “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Events of the past week suggest that that “new beginning” isn’t working out as President Obama thought it would.

Is that disconnect between the president’s rhetoric and the actual events not to be examined as the country decides who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years.

If Romney is intimidated by negative press coverage and the howling of the Obama campaign concerning legitimate criticism of policy arising from real-world violence against U.S. interests, perhaps he does lack the leadership qualities necessary for the most powerful office in the world.

Circumstances have set the table for discussing what kind of foreign power the United States should be from the perspective of friends and foes alike.

Governor Romney needs to state his case on the subject in the clearest terms possible.

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