Mitt Romney will not negotiate with the Taliban — he will defeat them. Barack Obama is done talking to Iran — window for diplomacy is shrinking. No one apologizes for America. We stand tall astride the world by virtue of our exceptional status.
This is just a small sampling of the rhetoric surrounding US foreign policy by the two rivals for the 2012 presidency.
The sniping is more than annoying, it is downright dangerous. It is designed to make us feel stronger without offering any real solutions to the myriad problems facing the United States at home and abroad.
The incumbent is facing a number of challenges, of course: a war in Afghanistan that seems physically impossible to win and politically impossible to lose; a defiant Iran that refuses to buckle to American pressure on its nuclear program, against a US Congress that appears intent on pushing the president into war; a conflict in Syria that has shocked he world, while the international community stands impotently on the sidelines; and a rogue state, Yemen, that is sponsoring Al Qaeda bombers whose ingenious underwear devices are now the bane of travelers everywhere.
Weigh this against a roaring deficit, a shrinking military budget, and a public that is increasingly gun-shy about foreign adventures, and you get some idea of Obama’s dilemma.
Romney, of course, faces no such constraints; he can blast away at his opponent, playing on the wounded national pride of Americans as he calls for firm action, regardless of the possibilities.