Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made clear, in a foreign policy speech on Friday, that he believes “American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values.” Romney then pledged to “reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts” and to rebuild the military.
“Time and again,” Romney said, “we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.”
The presidential candidate revealed his plan to rebuild the military—and the Navy and missile defense, in particular. “In my first 100 days in office, I will take a series of measures to put these principles into action, and place America—and the world—on safer footing,” Romney said. “Among these actions will be to restore America’s national defense. I will reverse the hollowing of our Navy and announce an initiative to increase the shipbuilding rate from 9 per year to 15. I will begin reversing Obama-era cuts to national missile defense and prioritize the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic missile defense system.”
At a time when some say the Republican party is divided on foreign policy—between engagement in the world and isolationism—Romney staked out his support for strong American leadership. “This is America’s moment,” Romney said. “We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s time has passed. That is utter nonsense. An eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender.”
Romney echoed Charles Krauthammer when he listed the threats America faces and said, “This isn’t our destiny, it is a choice. We are a democracy. You decide. In this campaign for president, I will offer a very different vision of America’s role in the world and of America’s destiny.”
As Krauthammer previously wrote in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, “The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no. Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline--or continued ascendancy--is in our hands.”
Additionally, Romney’s defense of defense echoed themes previously written about in THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “To protect and promulgate its liberties and the cause of liberty, America must be strong,” Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly editorialized.
In another piece, Schmitt and Donnelly asked: “Do conservatives want a smaller and better government than we now have—properly limited and governed by the rule of law, but also energetically capable of accomplishing its appropriate ends? Or do conservatives just want to cut government willy-nilly, not only reducing its overall size but endangering its ability to carry out its proper functions?”
In this speech, Romney indicated that he wants to be the president of a nation that understands its role in the world—and that peace can, indeed, be accomplished through strength.
“This century must be an American Century,” Romney said. “In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.”