Friday, February 23, 2018
Editorials

Tact vs. bluster in foreign policy

With jobs and the economy the top issues in the presidential election, too little attention is being paid to the differences between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama on foreign policy. Romney's tough talk on China, Russia and Iran, and his pandering on Israel ignore the complexities of the issues and risk escalating tensions. Obama offered a vigorous defense last week of the pragmatic approach of his first term. But the president should clearly articulate how the confrontational strategy of the Republicans would hurt the nation's security and economic interests.

Romney has little real ammunition to fire at the Obama record. Obama ended the war in Iraq, set a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, signed a new arms accord with Russia, and intensified the war on terrorist groups both here and abroad. He has championed free trade and sought to reset America's image in the Muslim world. He has fallen short in pursuing a Mideast peace and in bringing about democratic reforms in the most autocratic Arab and inter-American states. But Obama has framed a 21st century model for justice, inclusion and economic and human rights. America is stronger today than it was four years ago, and its standing has pushed other players to rise and act as fuller partners.

Romney has talked tough about confronting Russia and China and giving Israel the political cover it needs to make life even more miserable in the Palestinian areas. The gaffes he made on his overseas trip to Europe and Israel were small compared to the corrosive message he sent that the Cold War was a fight worth reprising. Romney has surrounded himself with many neoconservatives who distinguished themselves during George W. Bush's presidency for mishandling nearly every major foreign policy challenge, from promoting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to managing global alliances at the United Nations and other institutions. Romney has also not explained how the United States can afford to again become the world's policeman.

To be sure, Obama has made mistakes. He needlessly snubbed Republicans by refusing to obtain Congress' approval (as required by law) for the military action against Libya. He also alienated Russia and China by allowing those strikes to exceed their U.N. mandate and push Moammar Gadhafi from power. China and Russia have used that experience to block the United Nations from taking strong action in Syria. Obama's hesitation to stand with the revolution in Egypt canceled out much of the goodwill from his historic speech in Cairo in 2009 that gave voice to the Arab Spring.

Still, Obama capably defended his record in accepting the Democratic nomination. He is right that Romney is "in a Cold War mind warp" for maintaining that Russia — and not al-Qaida — is America's No. 1 enemy. The president also is right that Romney's "blustering" is no substitute for a strategy to manage threats from belligerent states, contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, or counter China's growing economic and military influence.

While the focus of this election is on the economy, foreign policy should not be neglected. One presidential debate next month will focus on foreign policy, and voters should pay close attention. Obama's accomplishments are underappreciated, and Romney's tough talk could lead the nation down a dangerous path.

Comments
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18