American Exceptionalism & The 2012 Election

The 2012 American presidential race is between the incumbent Democrat, Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.  The concept of American exceptionalism is playing into this race as noted in this recent Reuters article (Romney defines hawkish yet murky foreign policy, 12 April 2012).  This article suggests that U.S. foreign policy may figure important to the fall election, though it will never match the American public’s focus on the economy and jobs.

Beyond his success at devastating al-Qaeda with drone strikes and special forces raids – a trend begun under Republican George W. Bush but accelerated by the current administration – Romney’s team argues that Obama’s foreign policy achievements are limited.

By being content to “lead from behind” on issues such as the conflict in Libya, they say Obama has sacrificed America’s dominant global position. The attempted “reset” of relations with Russia has largely been a failure, they say, while planned military cuts could leave potential adversaries such as China and Iran with too great an ability to challenge Washington.

“Governor Romney believes in American exceptionalism, that we are great not just because of our military and economic power but also because of our values,” says Richard Williamson, a leading Republican foreign policy specialist and adviser to the Romney campaign who served in various roles under Ronald Reagan and both Bush administrations.

“The current president does not. … He believes in engagement – which has often not worked – while the governor believes we should say what we believe and work from a position of strength.”


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