“Mr. President, with all due respect, why are American boys still dying in Afghanistan?”
With that question, Mitt Romney positions himself to seize the high ground in the third presidential debate, programmed to focus on foreign affairs, and lead the Republican party to victory on November 6.
The whole point of foreign policy is to protect America and Americans, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, wants, expects. America first, last, and always — and American interests always take precedence over American principles, though in reality a foreign policy well conducted will be reinforced in almost all circumstances by American principles.
And with a question taking the debate squarely into the Afghan quagmire, the governor can underscore a simple and grim fact, which is that the Democrat administration and its allies in the media, in the academe, in the chattering la-la classes, do not subscribe to this fundamental proposition — a Constitutional proposition, note (“…assure the common defense…”) — and have been pursuing dangerously suicidal policies in the one area of government, outside the postal service, where it really is indispensable. “A well regulated militia…” may well be an absolutely crucial second line of defense of the home ground, our critical linebackers (not that I care much for sports analogies in this realm, but you see the picture), but in the world such as we know it, the militia and the armed citizenry are insufficient.
We need our military services, and we need to use them wisely, prudently. That means we do not waste them. We do not sacrifice the best of our breed in losing wars.
The governor can show he is a leader, which means fundamentally an educator, by asking, with all due respect, why Barack Obama, who voted against the intervention in Iraq, finds himself still a war president, and a losing war president at that.
The governor can say, with all due respect, that it is perfectly legitimate to change one’s mind on security policy. It is quite possible that Mr. Obama, who belonged to the defeatist party when he sat in the Senate, changed his mind once he acceded to supreme responsibilities in 2009. He could have perceived the world differently, understood better the threats and the global situation our republic faces, and he could have decided we have to see a war through, and win it, if we want to insure the safety and well-being of our posterity in the new century.
But then, the governor can say, facing his political adversary directly, you should have said so, Mr. President. You should have explained the nature of this war to our fellow-citizens. You should have advised the world (“… a decent respect to the opinions of mankind…”), you should have advised our friends and warned our enemies that you were in this conflict to see it through to victory.
For which there is no substitute.
And, quite the man of honor that he is, the governor can eschew partisan pusillanimity and concede — in debate terms a clever move, pre-empting the other side’s attacks — that the last Republican administration fumbled the ball (another one of those sports metaphors, sorry), did not see the job as clearly as it might have been expected to after its running and ardent start in the wake of the attack on our territory in 2001. Misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan based on dead-end — though generous — notions of nation-building, when the object of war is to win, caused unnecessary and terrible losses to our side, pardonable only to the degree we learn from them. The American people had every right to expect the new administration had learned from its predecessor, based on all the president-elect and his men said about foreign policy.
After four years in command, what have they learned? We are being rolled in Kabul, betrayed in Baghdad, attacked in Benghazi — by political thugs who owe their positions and their very lives to us and our heroic servicemen. This is totally crazy and what is more, we have a leadership that denies it. It makes up excuses and changes facts as it goes along, breaking one of the cardinal rules of American foreign policy: politics must stop at the water’s edge.