Americans should listen closely to what Mitt Romney has to say about foreign policy as he completes his six-day tour of England, Poland, and Israel, because until the debates he’s unlikely to say much about the same topics on these shores.
On this side of the pond, it has become apparent that foreign policy isn’t Romney’s forte. That’s not unusual. Obama was a novice, too, during his first campaign. But he offered viable alternatives to President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, while Romney has offered mostly rhetoric.
Romney calls Russia a major foe, ignoring that on some issues it has been an ally. He vows to keep Iran from pursuing a nuclear program, but doesn’t offer a feasible plan to accomplish that. He says he doesn’t like what President Obama is doing in Afghanistan, but then expresses the same goal: to have U.S. troops leave there by 2014.
Prior to their boss’ arrival, unnamed Romney aides stirred controversy by telling the British press “we are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage” and that Obama doesn’t “fully appreciate the shared history we have.” Such racial insensitivity couldn’t have been intended, but the gaffe won’t help a campaign that is struggling to win minority votes.
Romney had to make the obligatory trip overseas, as most major presidential aspirants do to burnish their typically lacking foreign policy credentials. Romney should be well received in Israel. But even there, many people praise Obama for opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the United Nations.
Romney will likely relish his return to the United States, where he can continue to hammer Obama about the economy. But even on that issue, if Romney doesn’t soon begin offering voters something more specific than his aversion to higher taxes, which they do share, his candidacy won’t succeed.