Ned Simons Headshot

US Election 2012: What Would President Romney Mean For The World?

Posted: Updated:
ROMNEY
AP

The Taiwanese animation depicting Mitt Romney punching a Chinese panda in the face neatly, if bizarrely, captured the rhetoric the Republican presidential candidate had taken to during the long election campaign.

Romney has slammed Obama for undertaking a global “apology tour” on behalf of the US and for being too weak when confronting China, Russia and Iran.

And of 24 foreign policy advisers, 17 worked for the neo-conservative administration of George W. Bush, leading to fears among critics that a Romney White House will be “Dubya’s third term”.

In the third and final debate Romney executed a sharp rhetorical turn towards the centre ground. On Libya, drone strikes, Israel, Iran and Syria his tactics were clear: ‘I agree with Barack’.

But Dana Allin, a senior fellow for US foreign policy and transatlantic affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says while this "great shift to the centre" was no surprise, much of Romney’s earlier rhetoric reflected his true core beliefs - and not just to satisfy the Republican conservative base.

“Some of his more hardline views were ones that came form his gut and his heart,” Allin tells The Huffington Post UK.

“Coming out and saying that Russia is American’s number one geo-political foe doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense given what Russia is today. I don’t know why he would he would say it. I don’t think it was with regarded for partisan politics or intra-Republican politics.”

On the Middle East, Allin notes that Romney “kept saying there should not be any day light between the US and Israel. “This suggests a Romney administration would be more supportive of Likud specific policies,” he says.

With just two days to go until election day, voters were receiving automated phone calls from the Romney campaign hammering the president. In one of them Republican senator John McCain says that Obama "refuses" to stop the $500bn "in automatic defense cuts that will be implemented in January."

"This threatens our national security and promises to sends hundreds of thousands of people from the front line to the unemployment line," McCain says.

And Allin notes Romney has “very much denounced the Obama administrations modest restraint in defence spending” even though to raise defence spending would set a political trap for himself.

"Either you're going to increase the deficit considerably, or the middle class and poor taxpayers are going to take a huge hit which I think would be a huge political problem."

But will this hardline rhetoric translate into policy once in the White House? Nigel Sheinwald, the former British ambassador to the United States, tells HuffPost UK much the campaign bluster will get junked if Romney takes office.

“It’s a different world when you’re sitting the White House and you’re surrounded by expert advice. You have to look at these things afresh,” he says.

An analysis shared by Alex Di Mascio, the assistant editor of a report for the Royal United Services Institute titled: 'Assessing American Power'.

He says: "If youre a candidate, you choose the people who given you foreign policy advice. If you're president there are much more diverse opinions - not just the people who you want to be surrounded by."

obama china

Soon after the US election will be the transfer of power in Beijing. And both Sheinwald and Allin predict this will be the first test of a Romney presidency.

“It is an important moment for the US-China relationship," Sheinwald says. "Any relationship between China and the US is going to have elements of cooperation and elements of competition. It’s very important for the rest of the world that those two elements be kept in balance.”

Allin adds: “It’s the iron law of American elections that all presidential challenges attack the incumbent for being too soft on China.

“Without a skipping a beat once they get into office they pursue policies based on recognising China is a important partner of US.”

“I would expect Romney to do the same. Romney has a businessman’s view. The US business community has a very strong stake in good relations with China.

“He has gone rhetorically very far, claiming he will label China a currency manipulator on day one. I would look to that to be one of the early promises to be broken frankly.”

Both Sheinwald also and Allin agree that there is unlikely to be much impact on UK-US relations if Romney captures the White House from Obama.

cameron romney

“Governor Romney has made it clear all the way through the election there is a very important UK–US relationship as part of America’s network of alliances,” Sheinwald says. “He would consult with the UK and other European allies carefully and would aim to work closely with us.

“There’s not going to be an issue of fundamental difference between him and his predecessors.”

The ‘Romneyshambles’ of Romney’s visit to London on the eve of the Olympics may have displayed a lack of diplomatic touch, but was likely equally the product of a bored British political press.

Allin predicts that while president Romney’s first trip to the UK will be subject of “snarky headlines” that will not last and “after a bit of that it will subside”.

But do we really know how a President Romney would behave on the world stage? “It’s difficult to tell,” Allin says. “His position have been so varied.” And Sheinwald observes: "The reality is that most people entering very high office don’t have decades of foreign policy experience behind them. I think we will have to wait and see."

Romney’s aggressive tone that concerned politicians abroad, including former Lib Dem leader Sir Ming Campbell who told The Huffington Post UK in advance of the final debate that there was concern about which Romney would turn up in the White House, the hawk of the realist.

“The right in the US would expect to him to honour the much more robust foreign policy statements,” he said.

And as the Lib Dems have discovered to their cost in Britain, Sir Ming added: "The problem with pledges made in the course of elections is people expect you to adhere to them when you're elected.”

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Polls: Obama vs. Romney
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction