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The big issues of the coming campaign are not in question. The economy, America’s growing debt, unemployment, and the role of entitlements (read: government) in Americans lives are crux of the 2012 battle for the White House. Highlighting the negative results in these areas is Mitt Romney, best hand for winning the election.
Nonetheless, foreign policy issues and threats are looming above America’s head in a big way, and will need to be addressed. The conventional wisdom is that Romney has little foreign policy and relations experience. President Obama’s own lack of experience in this area notwithstanding, his campaign zeroed in on this one reason that Romney is not the right man for job.
Governor and Romney advisor Tim Pawlenty addressed this viewpoint and other foreign policy concerns today in a symposium held by the Foreign Policy Initiative. Moderated by board member and Fox news analyst Bill Kristal, the event gave Pawlenty a forum to address how a Romney Presidency would look like in the area of foreign relations. The big take away from the event was Pawlenty’s view that Romney is on the right track.
“Romney has the right foundational and directional philosophy to make the correct decisions.” Pawlenty followed this up by reminding everyone in attendance that Reagan did not have extensive foreign policy experience. His worldview is what allowed him to be an effective foreign policy President.
Channeling Reagan is something that most, if not all, republicans attempt to do. It does not matter whether it is taxes, the economy, or dealing with America’s challenges abroad. Still, there is a large grain of truth to his statement. Governors of either party seldom have extensive foreign policy and relations experience. Their duties at times lightly touch the area, but their primary function is running their states. The lack of experience has to be made up with study and experienced, sound advisors.
Underlying it all, however, is the philosophy of the person in charge. The President can have a mindset like Carter or Winston Churchill. How he views Americas role and his mindset sets the agenda for who he has as advisers, what diplomacy targets he set, and what he will do and not do with America’s armed forces.
Pawlenty was critical of the philosophy President Obama has taken. “President Obama has decided to lead from behind. To have America take a less active role as leader in the world. That has not worked out well.” Examples given of this view were the “reset with Russia,” as the President calls it, and the missed opportunity in the Iranian uprising.
The financial challenges the country faces are grave, but the potential threats of Iran, Russia, and China are like a Damocles sword above the neck of Uncle Sam. Romney cannot afford to let the view of the President set America’s view of him in this area. The knowledge and philosophy that Pawlenty speaks of must be in full view to the American public. Foreign policy may not be issue one this election cycle, but it still cannot be allowed to be ignored.