Top 5 Questions Mitt Romney Still Needs to Answer
Then-Senator Obama used an international trip in 2008 to visit 9 countries, including Afghanistan, to provide a new level of detail and depth to his national security policies. He met with leaders, held three press availabilities, gave interviews with all the major networks, and took the time to greet large crowds. It was an opportunity for Obama to define his policies. Today, Governor Romney begins a similar trip, and like Obama, it is his opportunity to clarify his policies. Specifically, he needs to answer the following questions:
1. Would Romney actually do anything different towards Iran?
Romney’s rhetoric on Iran has been aggressive, but what is his actual plan? During his trip to Israel, Romney once again said that a Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, but it isn’t clear that he would do anything different to Iran except rattle the saber. Romney needs to clarify what tools he would use to pressure Iran to change their behavior that aren’t already being used. What would Romney do beyond current policy to isolate, weaken, and surround Iran? In other words, what would he do differently than President Obama?
2. What is Romney’s actual plan for Afghanistan?
The President’s policy foresees a handoff in 2014, with combat responsibilities handed off sooner. Romney endorsed that timeline during his VFW remarks on the 24th, even after he has said he opposed the announcement of timelines. He’s also said the President’s plan was made against the advice of military leaders, despite military leaders saying otherwise. So does Romney agree or disagree? It’s not clear, even though he continues to criticize the president rhetorically.
3. How will he react to a changing Middle East?
Romney has criticized the President for a ‘failure of leadership’ during the democratic movements of the Middle East. In particular, he identified Obama’s approach to Libya last year and Syria this year. However, Governor Romney’s plan for a response to the “Arab Spring” and to Egypt in particular was limited to bureaucratic reshuffling at the State Department and a restatement of things already being accomplished.
4. How does Romney match strategy to defense spending?
Governor Romney has proposed that defense spending be pegged at 4% of GDP. Meanwhile, he suggested increasing the size of the Army by 100,000 and expanding the Navy and Air Force. In this time of budget pressure, why does America need a larger army? How will he pay for this increase? Romney has not outlined how his plans match the threats we face today. For example, if Romney sees China as a threat, why does he want to put limited resources towards the Army rather than emphasizing the Navy?
5. Does he trust the Generals on energy security?
Military leaders have identified energy security as a national security challenge. They have invested in new technologies, including fielding solar panels with the Marines and testing advanced biofuels with the Navy. Romney has made a point of nearly always deferring to the judgment of military leaders. So does he support plans to gut DoD energy programs that military leaders support?
When it comes to foreign policy and national security, Governor Romney has left these questions — and many more — unanswered.