Romney's dangerous ploy on foreign policy: Obama is weak on security
Americans too easily believe the simplistic myth perpetuated in the Republican debate Saturday that Obama and Democrats are weak on national security while Republicans keep the US strong. It's a cheap shot, but Democrats have also played this dangerous game.
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There is much that is morally wrong with fabricating nonexistent weaknesses. For one thing, it misleads the public as to what constitutes genuine strength.Skip to next paragraph
And such political disingenuousness can breed immense tragedies. In the summer of 1964, Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate, was biting at President Lyndon Johnson’s heels calling for bombing North Vietnam as the situation in the South worsened weekly.
With an eye on his own election prospects and fearful of being called “weak” by Republicans during the campaign, Johnson took America into a disastrous war in Vietnam. This, he hoped, would demonstrate that he was “strong.”
That folly cost $150 billion and 58,000 American lives. Ultimately, it was the Vietnamese with at least a million dead of their own who proved themselves strong and the Americans “weak.”
Jimmy Carter, whom Republicans love to ridicule, actually demonstrated great moral courage by refusing demands to take America to war with Iran after the Islamic Republic held 52 US embassy workers for 444 days.
Carter demonstrated the same tensile strength that John Adams wielded by refusing to take the US to war with France. Both lost reelection bids even though they demonstrated moral fiber and enduring strength.
America does not need another election that hinges on imagined weakness aimed at frightening the public. Parading about and chest-thumping are destructive, misrepresenting our real national interests during elections. Romney’s fantasy of reinventing an American Empire would have disastrous consequences for the battered US budget.
Walter Burdick, professor emeritus of Elmhurst College in Illinois, cautions, “If you’re going to play with this kind of saber-rattling, someone like Romney may have to put up or shut up in Iran or North Korea. If you’re going to sell the public such a bill of goods, you may find you have to live up to it.”
Israel’s most brilliant military historian, Martin van Creveld, put it succinctly in his book “The Transformation of War”:
“The cold, brutal fact is that much present-day military power is simply irrelevant as an instrument for extending or defending political interests over most of the globe,” he writes. “When it comes to preventing acts of terrorism closer to home, the military services and their arms – fighter bombers, tanks, armored personnel carriers, etc. – are even less useful.”
Walter Rodgers, a former senior international correspondent for CNN, writes a biweekly column.