John Bolton: America Needs A Reaganite Foreign Policy

Roundup: Media's Take

John Bolton is former US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign policy adviser to the Romney campaign.

Barack Obama has always been a comfort to European social democrats, given how similar their philosophies are, domestically and internationally. But in American terms, he is a radical president, and a failed one. A second term would be worse, as vividly evidenced in his famous ‘off microphone’ conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Obama pleaded for ‘space’ before the US election, after which he would have more ‘flexibility’ towards Russia.

This spectacle of an American president negotiating on his own behalf rather than for his country is deeply troubling. Equally troubling is Obama’s failure to understand the vital nexus between an internationally strong America and sustained domestic prosperity. Global stability, a prerequisite for trade, investment, communications and travel, is hardly spontaneous. What stability we have depends on the visibility and strength of America and its alliance partners, especially NATO.

But Obama has spurned prudent security policies, starting with national missile defence, the ostensible subject of his Medvedev conversation. Ronald Reagan, whose national security philosophy was ‘peace through strength’, rejuvenated national missile defence. In 2001, George W. Bush carried the ideas forward, announcing US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty so we could develop missile defence capabilities against rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. But ‘mutual assured destruction’ still holds sway among Democrats, and combined with the ‘reset’ button approach to Russia, Obama set about gutting missile defence. Moscow still opposes US attempts to protect our civillian population, and Obama surrendered to its views, cancelling facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Mitt Romney, by contrast, follows Reagan’s vision, insisting on protecting our civilian population from the devastating impact of nuclear, chemical or biological attacks delivered via ballistic missiles. This is sound defence policy in its own right, but also much more: the missile defence debate vividly illuminates the huge gap between Obama’s search for foreign forbearance, and Romney’s adherence to Reagan’s ‘peace through strength’... 

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