Washington Extra – The Romney Doctrine?
When it comes to U.S. presidents and foreign policy, it’s always been a matter of what they do during crises, rather than what they say on the campaign trail.
Running for president in 2000, George W. Bush campaigned against “nation building.” But the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything, and Bush wound up launching an invasion of Iraq that led to a decade-long war and redefined U.S. foreign policy.
Now, likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is talking tough on foreign policy – and seeking to cast Democratic President Barack Obama as naïve and soft. Romney is promising a “more aggressive” approach toward China, Russia and the Middle East. He says he would swiftly brand Beijing a currency manipulator, refuse to concede to Moscow on nuclear issues and put more emphasis on defending Israel from a potential attack by Iran.
Romney says he would ratchet up the financial pressure on Iran through sanctions, while leaving the option of military action on the table. His campaign clearly wants to give the impression that he might prove more willing than Obama to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program.
So would an attack on Iran really be more likely under a Romney administration? That’s unclear.
What is clear is that this is the campaign season, and that Romney’s rhetoric is an effort to diminish Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments, which – as Democrats will remind you – include killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. And while Romney is defining a decidedly hawkish foreign policy, it remains uncertain how he would tackle what his own website calls a “bewildering array of threats and opportunities.”
Here are our top stories from Washington…
Romney defines hawkish yet murky foreign policy: As he locks down the Republican nomination for president, Mitt Romney is framing what looks to be a decidedly hawkish foreign policy. But should the former Massachusetts governor defeat President Obama in November, it remains far from clear how he actually would tackle what his own website describes as a “bewildering array of threats and opportunities.” For more of this story by Peter Apps, read here.
Biden attacks ‘Romney Rule’ on taxes for rich: Vice President Joe Biden took direct aim at probable Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, accusing him of promoting what amounts to a “Romney Rule” of tax protection for the rich. Biden’s campaign speech in New Hampshire was part of a stepped-up White House effort to paint President Obama’s wealthy Republican challenger as out of touch with the struggles of middle-class Americans. For more of this story by Matt Spetalnick, read here.
U.S. ban on political ads on public TV struck down: A divided appeals court struck down a federal ban on political advertising on public TV and radio stations, a decision that could open the public airwaves to a heavy dose of campaign ads leading up to the November elections. The court said the ban was over broad and that lifting it would not threaten to undermine the educational nature of public broadcast stations. For more of this story by Jasmin Melvin, Jonathan Stempel and Terry Baynes, read here.
Obama, Sarkozy discussed oil market conditions -W.House: President Obama discussed conditions on world oil markets during a video conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the White House said, but declined to say if they talked about the release of strategic reserves. “The president and President Sarkozy agreed to continue their consultations about the tightness in global oil markets, in line with previous conversations,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a briefing. For more of this story, read here.
U.S. jobless claims cast cloud on labor market: The number of Americans filing for jobless aid hit a two-month high last week and more applications were received in the prior week than initially reported, suggesting a cooling in the labor market recovery. While economists cautioned against reading too much into the report, saying problems adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations around Easter may have pushed last week’s figure higher, they said it nonetheless provided a worrying signal. For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.
Bill Clinton goes to bat in bid to save Exim Bank: Former President Bill Clinton urged Congress to put aside partisan differences and reauthorize the nearly 80-year-old Export-Import Bank, which he said was key to helping the United States expand job-creating exports. The Eximbank, which has its roots in the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt, faces an uncertain future because of opposition from some conservative Republicans. The Eximbank provides direct loans and loan guarantees to help Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar and many other big and small manufacturers make sales in markets too risky for private banks. For more of this story by Doug Palmer, read here.
Big gap between races in US on Trayvon Martin killing: Americans are deeply divided by race over the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, with 91 percent of African Americans saying he was unjustly killed while just 35 percent of whites thought so, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. For more of this story by Deborah Charles, read here.
Graying America gets wired to cut healthcare costs: Baby boomers wired to their iPads and smart phones are giving health experts some new ideas about ways to cut the soaring costs of medical care in graying America. Some of the ideas might sound like “Robo-Granny”. An astronautical engineer at MIT has made a skin-tight undersuit equipped with sensors that can constantly monitor the vital signs of its elderly wearer and feed the data into a computer that fires off health alerts. It was first designed for a landing on Mars. For more of this story by Stella Dawson, read here.
Postal Service processing network too big: GAO report: The Postal Service has more mail-processing facilities, staff and equipment than it needs as mail volumes drop, a government watchdog said in a report calling on Congress to pass legislation that helps the agency address its dire financial situation. “It is now abundantly clear that the postal business model must be fixed given the dramatic and estimated decline in volume, particularly for First-Class Mail,” the GAO said in the report. “If Congress prefers to retain the current delivery service standards and associated network, decisions will be needed about how USPS’s costs for providing these services will be paid.” For more of this story by Emily Stephenson, read here.
An image makeover for Myanmar Inc: He’s the flashiest tycoon in one of Asia’s poorest cities, with a canary-yellow Lamborghini parked outside his neoclassical mansion. Tay Za is also one of the most vilified associates of Myanmar’s former junta. The U.S. Treasury has branded him a “notorious henchman and arms dealer,” slapping him with sanctions that froze his assets and blocked his jet-setting family from cities across the globe. Now, as his country starts to open up after decades of military misrule, Tay Za is leading a wave of crony capitalists who are repositioning themselves as the fresh new faces of Myanmar Inc. For more of this story, read here.