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.