Sunday, April 3, 2011

No Apology: Chapter One

I picked up Romney's book from Barnes and Noble yesterday and will be giving my thoughts about his plan for the future of America. First, let me say that I don't like reading campaign books, and Romney's book is a campaign book. Romney has a political agenda that he is seeking to meet with his book. His policy book is not going to be quite the same as a policy book by an academic. Nevertheless, I am committing to read his book because I do believe that I might learn something of the outside world.

I want to give an outline of Romney's argument first so that everybody can evaluate it. I will follow that outline with my own thoughts. By the way, you can skip the introduction. It is mostly campaign platitudes.

In chapter one, Romney argues that there are currently four competing strategies for world leadership: the United States and the West (he does recognize that there is a wide range of thought within the West), China, Russia, and Islamic extremism. The first strategy represented by the United States is built on political freedom and free enterprise. China's strategy is built on free enterprise, but not political freedom. Russia's strategy is built on dominance of energy and political authoritarianism. Lastly,  Islamic extremists seek to form a worldwide caliphate.

The theme of chapter one: if the United States declines, one of the other strategies will fill the void and our grandchildren will not be free (pg. 33).

He then goes on to excoriate the Obama administration for not sufficiently promoting the United States' strategy on the world stage. In fact, Romney spends about 13 pages portraying Obama as a leader who believes that the United States inevitably must decline. Romney says that Obama is the first President in modern history who views the United States as one nation among many, but not as the leader of the free world.

My take: Chapter one is much better than the introduction and Chapter Two (I will write about Chapter Two later). There are some flaws though.

First, Romney implies that if the United States does not continue to be the world's hegemon, that our grandchildren will not be free. Page 33:
These are the four strategies for world leadership that are in competition today. Only one if founded on freedom. Only one. Think of what that means. Only if America and the West succeed -- if our economic and military strength endure -- can we be confident that our children and grandchildren will be free. A strong America is good for peace, and it is essential for the spread of freedom. 
This sounds like hyperbole. In fact, during the undisputed hegemonic reign of the United States, there were various countries in the world that were unaffected by the freedom agenda of the United States. I have a hard time believing that if China surpasses the United States in economic strength (they are way behind in military strength) that our grandchildren will not be free. Nevertheless, this will be a powerful campaign slogan for Romney.

Second, Romney's portrayal of the President's foreign policy is fairly accurate, though he is also given to slight hyperbole. I do think that Romney is correct that Obama sees the United States in decline and that Obama might be okay with that. However, if Romney is going to spend the next two years trying to portray Obama as a weaker version of Jimmy Carter, then he is going to have a difficult time doing so. Barack Obama has in some ways been much more militaristic than George W. Bush. I think that Romney is going to have a hard time connecting a blow in the realm of foreign policy.

Getting specific, Romney is correct to blast Obama for neglecting to form a free trade agreement with Colombia. I also agree with Romney that Obama could do more to bolster America's relationship with its allies. However, Romney believes that Obama's policies are going to lead many Sunni Arab nations to move into Iran's sphere of influence. That doesn't seem likely with the Cold War that is currently being waged between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Romney is also a little too hard on the Obama administration's response to the coup in Honduras. In fact, judging by the cables of the American ambassador to Honduras, the Obama administration actually could have come out much stronger against the illegality of the coup. The crisis in Honduras, if anything, showed the incredible pragmatism of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

Having said all of that, I did enjoy the first chapter. I was actually a little surprised. I thought there would be much more politicking that there actually was. For the most part, chapter one was a coherent argument focusing on the outside world.

More to come...

16 comments:

BOSMAN said...

Pablo,

I put the picture in. If you don't like it, just delete it.

Anonymous said...

Good summary Pablo. I read the first half, then bought the cd to hear him speak the rest. I look forward to your continuing critical analyses.

-MikeZ

Anonymous said...

I love the picture!

Miami, Florida said...

Pablo,
A strong America is NOT good for peace around the world?
It is ok for China to surpass the U.S.in economic power?
With all due respect Pablo, you sound like President Obama!
America has led the free world since the early 20th century and if we have learned anything through out the history of this great country is that when you lead with strength, your enemies will respect you.
Jimmy Carter showed us what happens when we back off and allow our enemies to run amok, all he did was show the enemy that we were weak.
By carrying and using the big stick theory, America has prevented many disasters here and abroad and it would be a great shame to allow history to repeat itself.
When we are strong, our enemies will think twice before attacking us, in my opinion Romney is 100% correct...............Evelio

Pablo said...

Evelio,

I never once said that a strong America is not good for peace around the world. I said that changes on the margin of power will not affect the "freedom of our grandchildren." Romney's statement struck me as hyperbolic.

I am not at all against American power. I want more of it. I believe in our way of life. We should be the best that we can be.

And again, I thought the chapter was mostly well written and argued. I was just pointing out some things that I didn't quite agree with.

Bill589 said...

Pablo
I don’t see hyperbole in the writings that you mention, though I’m pretty sure I’m further to the Right than you are and maybe that is why.

For instance, if we lose our hegemony, I understand that that doesn’t necessitate we lose our freedoms too, but I do believe that freedom is something that has to be fought for in every generation. If our country loses it’s might, it may very well lead to us losing our freedoms because of diminished capacity to defend them.

I believe that Mitt and I agree that the US is still the shining city on a hill.

And I agree with Romney about Obama possibly uniting the Sunni against us. You probably know more about the Shiite/Sunni divide than I do, but I believe Obama’s dithering and other signs of weakness and lack of leadership skills will embolden all of our enemies.

And I don’t think there is, “incredible pragmatism of Barrack Obama’s foreign policy.” He shows only incredible pragmatism concerning himself. But if he’s trying to be pragmatic concerning our country with his foreign policy, he stinks at it.

This is just IMHO. I appreciate your analysis of Mitt’s book and look forward to chapter two.

Pablo said...

"When we are strong, our enemies will think twice before attacking us"

Really? Shall I form a list of terrorist attacks against the United States in the past 25 years? Or are you arguing that the United States just wasn't powerful enough?

National security is complicated and just spending more money on national defense is not going to get rid of the threat of assymetrical warfare.

Pablo said...

Bill,

Thanks for your thoughts. I think that I am with you on the hegemony. Of course, I want the United States to continue to be the world's superpower. But I think that there are many areas where we are not: we lag behind in education, particularly the sciences. Our health care system is the best, but is too costly. Our general health is terrible. We cannot measure superpower status only in terms of military strength.

I do think that Romney understands this. When I get to his chapters about education and health care I will post them.

Right Wingnut said...

Good stuff, Pablo. This is so much better than the "Bachmann is an idiot" posts. I look forward to the rest. I may even get the book from the library tomorrow. I don't know if I'll have time to read it, so I'll have to think about that.

DanL said...

Thanks for the review Pablo. Please keep them coming. And Bachmann is an idiot.

Doug NYC GOP said...

Pablo: "Having said all of that, I did enjoy the first chapter. I was actually a little surprised. I thought there would be much more politicking that there actually was."
====

That was one of the things I really enjoyed about Romney's book, was the lack of politicking and aside from Obama, the cliched blame game, most "campaign" books seem to degenrate to.

I 't think you'll be pleaseantly surprised as you continue.

Bill589 said...

Right Wingnut,

My dad has the book. I know - I’m trying to get him to see the error of his ways, and support SP, but he appears to be stuck on the ‘woman’ thing. Something about going through menopause and blowing up the world or something. (Though he might be saying this just to piss me off.) My dad IS literally a genius when it comes to Math/Engineering/Logic and such, but not so much the social graces and he doesn’t follow politics at all. Doesn’t like talking about politics either.

Somebody gave/lent him the book (he wouldn’t buy a book about politics), and I’m not sure if he has done more than flip through the pages, but I am considering hiding it and leaving an SP book in it’s place.

Right Wingnut said...

DanL,

I wasn't defending Bachmann with that comment. I happen to think Pablo is a very talented writer. A post like this does a lot more to showcase his talents than a "Bachmann is an Idiot" post. JMO.

Right Wingnut said...

If I read the book, 10 bucks says I agree with Romney's policies more often than Pablo.

Pablo said...

"If I read the book, 10 bucks says I agree with Romney's policies more often than Pablo."

Lol. I actually felt like I was too hard on Romney in this post. I just don't want anyone to accuse me of going soft on Romney just because I have supported him.

Johan "Mcon" said...

Pablo,

And that is why I wouldn't criticize your criticisms...