- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

The best way to sum up Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy is: Build peace through strength rather than generate contempt through apology. Mr. Romney laid out this vision for American national security at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday. President Obama’s camp predictably dismissed this point of view as “outside of the mainstream and often to the right of even George W. Bush.”

This is from the administration which has made targeted killings the centerpiece of its counterterrorism strategy. This is from the administration that has attempted — poorly — to make a legal case for assassinating U.S. citizens abroad. The Obama campaign can’t even claim to be consistent, having admitted many of Mr. Romney’s positions are identical to its own. As Ronald Reagan said to a previous generation of liberals, “Fellows, you can’t have it both ways. [I] can’t be a wild-eyed kook and a square.”

After Mr. Romney’s speech, CNN commentator and Obama supporter Fareed Zakaria argued the only major policy difference between the two candidates is that Mr. Romney allegedly wants to arm the Syrian rebels. Mr. Zakaria overlooked almost all the key differences. Mr. Romney would stop the raid on the military budget that threatens U.S. military pre-eminence. He’d build up American missile defense regardless of Mr. Obama’s backroom promises to Russian leaders to degrade it. He’d take credible steps to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He’d offer robust support to Iran’s dissident movement and back reformers in the Middle East rather than cheer Islamist extremists. He’d adopt regional strategies that show an understanding of the root causes of the enduring terrorist threat. He’d stand by America’s allies, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East. In particular, he’d reaffirm the lack of daylight between the United States and Israel on matters of national security. Mr. Romney can also be counted on to actually visit the Jewish State, something Mr. Obama has failed to do.

The most important difference between the two men is not in the details of their policy briefs but in their leadership styles. Mr. Romney wants to return the United States to leading from the front rather than from behind. On this, they could not be more distinct. Mr. Romney is assertive, while Mr. Obama is passive. Mr. Romney seeks to engage the hard issues, Mr. Obama would rather let them be. Mr. Romney will promote American interests, not try to become a global community organizer. Like Ronald Reagan, Mr. Romney will never receive the accolades of the leftist peace establishment, but as Mr. Obama proved, winning a Nobel Peace Prize means absolutely nothing if the recipient is not up to the task.

Mr. Romney has a very different view of the role and effectiveness of American global influence. Mr. Zakaria said while critiquing the Republican nominee’s views on the Arab Spring, “We’re bystanders. We’re well-wishers. There isn’t much we can do.” This fatalistic statement accurately sums up Mr. Obama’s approach to foreign policy, but is the exact opposite of Mr. Romney‘s. It tells Americans all they need to know about why the world is in such terrible shape today.

The Washington Times