The foreign-policy debate
A win for ObamaTo a remarkable degree, Mr Romney tacked to the moderate centre, seeking above all to distance himself from the record of George W. Bush and the sweeping ambitions of the neoconservative right. The Republican nominee stressed his desire for peace, played down the chances that America would launch fresh military campaigns on his watch and endorsed Mr Obama’s hopes for a negotiated end to such crises as the Iranian nuclear conundrum. Speaking of the threat from Islamic extremism, he agreed with the administration’s approach of targeted drone strikes, but added that America should not forget the tools of soft power. “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Mr Romney said.
In a big turnaround, Mr Romney abandoned his pledge to review Mr Obama’s plan to pull all American combat troops out of Afghanistan in 2014. The candidate also unceremoniously dropped any suggestion that the administration covered up the role of al-Qaeda-linked militants in the killing of America’s ambassador to Libya, or contributed to the envoy’s death by stinting on diplomatic security. He only offered fleeting references to the tragedy, as he repeatedly suggested that the world was in a state of “tumult”, showing that Mr Obama’s foreign policy was unravelling. It took him fully 45 minutes to revisit a favourite charge from the campaign trail, that Mr Obama had emboldened America’s enemies, such as Iran, by projecting an image of an apologetic, weak America abroad.
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