Presidential Debate: Why the Romney Neocon Attitude Will Cost Him the Debate and the Election


Slate Magazine says, “the third presidential debate is to be devoted to national security and foreign policy, which should be the most important debate if you are serious about what a president actually does in office. 

A president holds more personal power to shape foreign affairs than he does domestic affairs. If that is a strong criterion for office, and I believe it is, then Romney’s penchant for putting his foot in his mouth disqualifies him from holding office. 

Romney’s saber rattling, jingoistic rhetoric and his plan to increase defense spending will have the double-edged sword effect of increasing the deficit and probably dragging the country back into a war.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor accused Romney of saber rattling on his visit to Israel last summer. O’Reilly said, “Romney went on the record that if Israel goes, we’re going to back them and we are in World War III.” 

Romney has called for directly arming the Syrian opposition groups in their fight against the Assad regime. The jingoistic Romney would have us go to war with two more countries in the Middle East/North Africa region, Iran and Syria, after a ten-year war with two, Iraq and Afghanistan and a third with Libya.

Romney has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth on foreign policy. He insulted our biggest ally, the United Kingdom on his visit during the Olympics, he insulted the Palestinian people’s culture on his visit to Israel, he mistakenly called Russia our number one global enemy even while we were engaged in three Middle Eastern wars, he prematurely and incorrectly critiqued the administration after the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya and now he shot himself in the foot and embarrassed himself when he lost a semantic war with Obama in the second debate.

Romney has proposed setting the defense budget to a “floor” of 4% of GDP on a permanent basis, not including war costs. Experts estimate that this will raise the defense budget by $2 trillion dollars and like the Bush administration would not include the cost of any wars. 

Military experts question the logic of tying defense spending to GDP rather than have it be governed by national security needs. The progressive group, The Center for American Progress said, “Romney would reject the judgments of our military planners to oversee a massive buildup of our armed forces just as we end two wars. His plan ignores the advice of our military planners and shatters historical precedent, all in response to security threats he has not deigned to specify.”

In an all too common and familiar pattern, Romney refuses to supply any detail on how he would raise the defense budget, which is projected to drop to 2.7% of GDP by 2017, without increasing the deficit and debt. Romney has refuted the $2 trillion dollar estimate, which was reported by both the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, the left leaning, Center for a New American Security, and The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group focused on deficit reduction and confirmed by the fact-checking organization, Politifact.

Bloomberg News said that the defense department proposed $487 billion in defense spending cuts over 10 years under a plan Obama and Congress backed to reduce the federal deficit. That’s separate from the $500 billion in cuts that will start taking effect in January that resulted from the bi-partisan Budget Control Act.

Romney on the other hand proposes increasing the number of troops by 100,000 at a cost of $12.5 billion, and increasing production of Navy ships by 50% despite the fact that the Navy is larger than the next 11 navies of the world combined, many of whom are allies.

Michael O’Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution, a policy group in Washington, said, “hell would have to freeze over and deficits would have to disappear for this to be even conceivable.”

Romney’s foreign policy team is primarily made up of the neo-con from the Bush administration (17 of 24 of his foreign policy advisers worked in the Bush administration) that dragged the country into two unbudgeted and unpaid for wars and resulted in President Bush having a shoe thrown at him during a press conference. This is after Bush 43 followed his father’s footsteps into Iraq. This is not forward-thinking leadership.

Mr. Hagler will be live blogging tonight’s 3rd debate on foreign policy between Obama and Romney for PolicyMic. For a fun and provocative look at the debate click here.