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October 08, 2012

Romney's Foreign Policy Speech

Key quotes: I know the president hopes for peace, and I do too, but "hope is not a strategy."

On Afghanistan: "I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation."

Overall, he did not announce any surprise new commitment or policy. He instead asserted what could be called classic Reaganite principles -- moral clarity in our thinking, verbal clarity in our words. Military clarity in our resolve, should it come to that.

The thrust was that Obama's policy was ambiguous; our allies are undermined, our enemies emboldened.

He stressed free trade. Although he did not directly state this, he implicitly argued that free trade acts as a sort of evangelist for other freedoms, for openness, for prosperity, for friendship.

He reaffirmed that he planned a withdrawal from Afghanistan, but implicitly caveated this by noting he did not believe in "pre-announced timetables" and that he would be guided by "facts on the ground" as well as the advice of his military advisers.

I had hoped for something stronger than this. Like-- we either fight to win or we withdraw on a much faster pace (that is, as soon as militarily possible). My sense is that we have soldiers dying over nothing except politics at the moment.

He repeatedly attacked Obama on his defense cuts, and argued that weakness would inevitably lead to war, as it usually does.

I think it was a strong speech, within the usual contours of a Reaganite/Republican foreign policy. The man gives a good speech. At least to my ear, he speaks in a near-optimum number of words per minute -- he speaks sort of quickly, thus keeping it punchy, but slows down within that quick-delivery framework to add a bit of subtle emphasis.

Much of his language is admirably old-fashioned in the best of ways -- the vocabulary is not much different from what you'd find in a Churchill address. There's a reassuring quality in that; the mind naturally associates timeless words with stability and solemnity.

A good speech, certainly presidential, well-written and very well delivered. It did not contain any bold pronouncement, but reflected the basics of the standard Reagan foreign policy, as modified post-9/11.

More: Subtle but important distinction from Obama on preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons (Obama) or preventing them from even having nuclear wapon capability (Romney).

Full prepared remarks here. He never seemed to go off-script, but it's possible he changed a few things before speaking.

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posted by Ace at 11:34 AM

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