Home > Uncategorized > Obama and Romney: Identical Twins Regarding U.S. Global Dominance

Obama and Romney: Identical Twins Regarding U.S. Global Dominance

Global Times
October 24, 2012

Obama and Romney identical twins regarding foreign policy
By Joshua Gass

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At one point, Obama claimed that the US “remains the one indispensable nation” in the world, a claim that is startlingly jingoistic, if it means anything at all.

The issue of the bloated US military budget went totally unquestioned throughout the debate. Further, neither candidate would address the basic assumption of this overspending, that the US needs to retain its position as the leader of global politics.

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The amazing thing about Tuesday’s presidential debate was the overwhelming amount of agreement between the candidates. At times, it hardly seemed like a debate at all. Both candidates incessantly pictured the US as the world’s greatest military and moral power, beleaguered by threats from abroad.

Even the moderator participated in this depiction, opening the proceedings by noting that the debate marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, “a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.”

This comment also highlights a major shift in global politics. The entire debate was dominated by discussion of the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, China. Other regions were mentioned only in passing. Obama even made fun of Romney for referring to Russia as a “geopolitical threat” in an earlier speech.

Despite these massive shifts in global politics, neither candidate deviated from a conventional vision of the world order, with the US as its dominant power.

Both promised to be tough and uncompromising in pursuing US interests, and noble and fair-minded in efforts to spread democracy.

At no time did either candidate suggest that there might be any contradiction between morality and US interests.

The candidates agreed on Pakistan, the use of drone strikes in the Middle East, Iran policy, and US relations with Israel and China. Each candidate emphasized the need to both “cooperate with” and “lead” other nations.

Throughout, Romney tried to portray Obama as not being tough enough with other nations, and Obama tried to cast Romney as inconsistent and inexperienced, but the complete unanimity on all major foreign policy issues overshadowed these arguments.

The effort to maintain this unified stance created a certain amount of incoherence.

Romney suggested that the purpose of US foreign policy is “to go after the bad guys” but also to get the “the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own.” And both candidates cited women’s rights as a justification for US involvement in the Middle East.

At one point, Obama claimed that the US “remains the one indispensable nation” in the world, a claim that is startlingly jingoistic, if it means anything at all.

This unanimous depiction of US supremacy continued where the candidates spoke about relations with China. Each candidate recycled his positions from the previous debate, arguing that Chinese trade practices need to be controlled in order to “level the playing field” between US and Chinese companies and ignoring US responsibility for the massive trade imbalance between the two countries. China represents the specter of US economic decline, and each candidate must negotiate that fear by emphasizing tough regulation of international trade.

A new aspect of this argument appeared in the context of a foreign policy debate: the effect of US military power on relations with China.

Obama spoke about US military presence in the region “sending a very clear signal that America is a Pacific power” and about his efforts to organize “trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards.”

Romney, for his part, explicitly argued that Chinese cooperation is dependant on recognition of US military and economic power.

The issue of the bloated US military budget went totally unquestioned throughout the debate. Further, neither candidate would address the basic assumption of this overspending, that the US needs to retain its position as the leader of global politics. Obama attacked Romney for wanting to increase military spending, but even Obama advertised the fact that his administration has kept spending at record levels.

At one point, Obama even used a much criticized statistic, that the US spends more on its military than any other nine countries combined, positively to refute Romney’s attacks.

To be fair, both candidates did at times emphasize cooperation with other nations. But the simple fact that neither of them suggested that the US needs to reduce military spending, or, reassess its place in the world shows the narrow range of ideas acceptable in mainstream US politics.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, the choice in the US elections is really very little choice at all.

The author is a PhD candidate in Ohio State University.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Walter DuBlanica
    October 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Your article is excellent and “right on the money”.

    • richardrozoff
      October 25, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Good choice of words. Or expression.
      It’s estimated that the two “people’s choices” for the White House will have spent at least $2.5 billion between themselves by the November 6 election.

  2. October 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    What is clear is that President Obama’s pathway to victory is straight and narrow; he has a variety of different paths along which he can walk to victory against an electoral arithmetic nightmare for Governor Romney (see my thoughts: http://goo.gl/FsfQv).

    It would take a monumental upset in Obama’s campaign, or a significant upturn in Romney’s, for the Republicans to retake the presidency; it would be a taste of revenge for the Democrats if Romney were denied the White House in a similar manner to Gore in 2000.

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