October 1, 2012

Inner Peace AND External Peace

Inner Peace Coming Soon sign 
seen on West 24th Street 
in New York City.
Photograph courtesy Pak So and Anna Tan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel 
holding bomb diagram at the United Nations 
General Assembly on September 27, 2012.
Photograph courtesy Reuters

Excerpts below from The Foreign Policy Divide by Roger Cohen, published in the October 1, 2012 edition of The New York Times:

In the vision of President Barack Obama, America is now in the status-management business: being realistic about its power the better to exercise and preserve it. As for Mitt Romney, he belongs to Putin's school of foreign policy. The status quo he believes in is that of three decades ago. In this regard he is a closet Russian even as he denounces Moscow.

And so, for Romney, Russia is "without question our number one geopolitical foe," just like during the Cold War. He is "guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: this century must be an American century," like the century that saw the Cold War.

In the name of U.S. domination, America needs to throw its weight around, maintaining or increasing Pentagon budgets, refusing to talk to the Taliban, confronting China, giving Israel a green light to attack Iran, and generally being unabashed about U.S. might.

It seems the devastating cost of America's post-9/11 wars has not dawned on Romney; nor has what they say about a world where U.S. power is unrivaled but insufficient for the United States to impose its will.

Romney's vision, like Putin's is pure nostalgia. It imagines a world that is gone. Of course the clarion call of American greatness can be a distraction from economic difficulty, but Americans have grown wary of adventure.

Obama has been accused by Republicans of being in the business of "managing decline." A better way to look at his foreign policy is one of managing the preservation of U.S. power in an interconnected world where the rapid growth is not in the West, where the national debt is a ticking bomb, and where the U.S. edge over other powers is diminishing.

He has extracted the United States from a costly war (Iraq); set a date for departure from Afghanistan; adopted a low-cost means to kill terrorists (drone attacks); rid America of the specter of Osama bin Laden; restrained Israel from attacking Iran and so starting a disastrous third Western war in a Muslim country in a decade; sought ways to work with Russia and China; put European allies in lead roles in Libya; and generally looked not to hard power but the American soft power represented most visibly by Twitter, Facebook, Google and Apple.

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