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5 Ways Mitt Romney Would Double Down on U.S. Empire and Hegemony

Romney's Virgina speech on foreign policy was boilerplate content, with nods to the belligerent neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.

Mitt Romney put foreign policy squarely back in the spotlight with his speech at the Virginia Military Institute today.

Romney launched a rhetorical attack on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, focusing on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.

“The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts.  They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East,” said Romney, noting that it was likely an Al Qaeda affiliate who attacked the U.S. embassy.

The GOP candidate added that “the blame for the murder of our people in Libya, and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries, lies solely with those who carried them out—no one else.  But it is the responsibility of our President to use America’s great power to shape history—not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.”

He also laid out a broad foreign policy vision that called for the U.S. to “lead the course of human events” with “more American leadership.”

In other words, it was a boilerplate speech with nods to the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, a wing that leads his foreign policy team as well. But as Wired’s Spencer Ackerman notes, “the policies Romney outlines in his speech differ, at most, superficially from Obama’s.” Obama’s record on foreign policy is an aggressive one, with escalated drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians in Pakistan and Yemen and the continuation of the war in Afghanistan. Romney didn’t offer anything specific that was more aggressive than Obama, though his rhetoric was ratcheted up.

But if Romney’s speech didn’t contain new ideas, that doesn’t mean they were necessarily good ones. In fact, the prescriptions he offers for U.S. foreign policy will deepen the commitment to U.S. empire and hegemony. Here are 5 bad ideas Romney offered in his foreign policy speech.

1. More American Meddling Around the World

When Romney says “the 21st century can and must be an American century” and that is the U.S.’s responsibility to steer the world towards “the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity,” that’s code for the maintenance of U.S. hegemony. Romney still believes that the U.S. should be able to shape the world as we see fit--the rest of the world who refuses to go along with it be damned. These ideas are particularly galling given that Romney was partly addressing the Arab Spring--a series of revolts that were decidedly against U.S. support for repressive dictatorships.

Romney also believes that in the case of Iran, “American support”--read meddling-- for the opposition in that country would be helpful. But that ignores the fact that the Green movement in Iran did not want U.S. support and intervention.

The Republican candidate also lamented the fact that “America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.”

Lastly, he hinted that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan could continue for years to come if he was president. “The route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11,” the candidate said. “I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders.”

2. Belligerence Towards Iran

The Obama administration, with the pushing of an eager U.S. Congress, has implemented extremely tough sanctions on Iran already--so much so that the Iranian rial’s value has been in freefall recently, with reports that the sanctions are causing food insecurity and medicine shortages. But Romney wants more belligerence towards Iran.

“I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region,” said Romney.

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