The battle for Mitt Romney's soul
Which faction of the Republican Party is winning? We asked three smart conservatives to weigh in.

Reuters

Oct. 8, 2012: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shakes hands with cadets after his foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

Article Highlights

  • Every country – even the US – is constrained in what it can do practically in the face of bloody minded enemies.

    Tweet This

  • No leader should be constrained in how he articulates America’s commitment to its allies. @DPletka

    Tweet This

  • This is not an election about national security. And Mitt Romney’s VMI address was enough. Maybe even more than enough.

    Tweet This

Foreign Policy asked three smart conservatives of different stripes to analyze Mitt Romney's big foreign-policy address, and tell us which wing of the Republican Party is winning the battle for Romney's soul. Here's what they told us:

Danielle Pletka:

I’m glad Mitt Romney delivered a major speech on foreign policy at the Virginia Military Institute. I wrote in The New York Times that had the debacle of Benghazi -- and the dreadful murder of four Americans -- not taken place, he probably wouldn't have been willing to take time out of the all-economy-all-the-time election to talk national security. But the White House has screwed up royally in both its substantive management of the terrorist threat from Benghazi and the Arab Spring, and in its messaging on everything from Libya to Syria to Iran to Russia. 

Every country -- even the United States -- is constrained in what it can do practically in the face of bloody minded enemies, obstructionist wannabe superpowers and terrorists; everyone understands that our resources are finite. But no leader, and certainly not the commander in chief of the U.S. military, should be constrained in how he articulates America's commitment to its allies, intolerance of threats to the global order, and vision for the nation's role in the world.

Romney's speech at VMI was a far cry from his previous perorations on the feebleness of the Obama Doctrine of "leading from behind.” It departed from the cliches -- "I will never apologize" -- and ignored the Islamophobia of a few among the GOP ticket's supporters. Romney instead offered serious propositions about rethinking aid to the Middle East; measured, yet well-deserved criticism of Russia; and thoughtful, but not drone-obsessed answers to the terrorist threat.

Where did he fall short? Not in failing to talk about Israel-Palestine. Did anyone seriously think that after decades of failed peace processing, he would mouth some platitude about the need for a peace process? Unfortunately, he limped in distinguishing himself from Obama on Iran, where the president has, by any measure other than success in imposing fruitless sanctions, failed. Romney also shied away from tougher talk about the challenge of an increasingly aggressive People's Republic of China.

Still, this was a better speech, a serious speech, and -- on the barometer of Obama promises and orations -- serious in its vision and intent. Would wonks like me prefer more? Possibly, but this is not an election about national security. And the VMI address was enough. Maybe even more than enough.

Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.