Foreign Policy Chat - Romney Plays Politics With Chen & A New Dempsey Doctrine

Romney Plays Politics With Chen

As the Obama Administration continues to navigate the complicated diplomatic situation involving Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, the Romney campaign and their surrogates have lined up to criticize the President's handling of the situation. The GOP apparently believes that this is a 'day of shame' for the Obama campaign, rather than for the Chinese whose human rights abuses are being exposed on the world's stage. If he weren't so anxious to politicize the incident, you would expect the former Governor to be assailing the government in Beijing instead of the State Department who has been trying to save the activist's life.

These critiques, in addition to being crassly political and misdirected, are also devoid of any hint at what alternative Republicans would endorse. Just as Romney attacks the President's Iran policy without any suggestion of what he would do differently, so too is he quick to indict the White House while remaining silent on his preferred method of handling this delicate confrontation. The U.S. has many interests in China - economic, energy, diplomatic, regional, etc - in addition to human rights interests. Any prudent leader has to approach an event like this rationally and strategically, taking full account of the implications of our actions. One of the reasons that Obama is out-polling Romney on foreign policy by double digits is that Americans value having a Commander and Chief who prudently and thoughtfully analyzes decisions in ways that promote American interests, rather than jumping into far-flung wars based off of gut instincts. Romney's rhetoric along with his neocon war-cabinet suggest that he's anxious to return us to the world of unilateral shoot-from-the-hip foreign policy that had such disastrous consequences under George W. Bush. American voters would be wise to deny him that opportunity.

The Dempsey Doctrine

General Dempsey gave a highly anticipated speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday and his remarks are being billed as the first major articulation of the "Dempsey Doctrine." Martin Dempsey, who was sworn in late last year as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has kept a relatively low profile in recent months-but took the opportunity this week to articulate what he believes to be the animating principle that should guide military strategy in the near future. "I would say where we're headed is a global networked approach to war...The military instrument should never be wielded alone." This vision of multilateralism and burden sharing was on full display during the successful NATO operation that removed Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya last year.

The Chairman went on to frame the Pentagon's new defense strategy as composing three main elements: The early 21st century American defense challenges will be comprised of rebalancing toward the Pacific, a renewed commitment to building effective partnerships with traditional as well as emerging allies, and the integration of newly developed capabilities such as intelligence gathering technology, cyberspace, and special operations forces.