Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote a book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness." This title reflects his campaign theme that President Obama is an international apologist reluctant to speak out with confidence for American ideals abroad. The book justifies high defense spending as necessary costs of American exceptionalism and world power status.
Romney asserts that President Truman created a new world order for the United States based on three pillars: "active involvement and participation in world affairs; active promotion of American and Western values including democracy, free enterprise, and human rights; and a collective security umbrella for America and her allies." He claims that every one of Truman's successors-Republican and Democrat up to George W. Bush- continued in these broad traditions with some modifications and occasional deviations. Romney charges, "President Obama is well on his way toward engineering a dramatic shift in this American foreign policy, based on his own underlying attitudes." He promises a return to the foreign policy traditions of Truman.
Romney's position against foreign policy change contradicts conclusions made in "No Apology." Truman was President of the United States from 1945-1953. The world changed drastically over six decades. Old enemies like Germany and Japan now are allies. Former allies like China and Russia now are rivals. In his book, Romney describes four contestants for world leadership as the United States and the West, China, Russia, and the Jihadists. In addition, he reports the rise and decline of superpower nations over thousands of years to decide that resistance to change was a main cause of their decline. Nevertheless, Romney believes the U.S. President should continue Truman's 20th century foreign policy of American exceptionalism without major changes.
We must shift from the U.S. 20th century foreign policy of American exceptionalism, because it is expensive and paternalistic. Romney said, "The U.S. military provides global humanitarian relief. . . Our military is also charged with deterring nuclear attack whether from rogue nations or a future would-be superpower; preventing space attack and cyber-attack; protecting world shipping routes; supporting nations in their defense against insurgencies and helping failed states avoid becoming bases for terror; stopping ethnic cleansing and genocide; and maintaining the capabilities to respond to conventional wars wherever they might occur on the globe."
There are about 7 billion people in the world with 300 million in the United States. This means that only 4.23 percent of the world's population live here. It is unrealistic for American leaders to believe this small population of free people can continue those costs and remain solvent, no matter the nation's productive might. The many roles he described for the U.S. military-with some roles omitted-will destroy the United States financially if it continues trying to fulfill them all. Nevertheless, Romney rationalizes, "America spends more on our military than other nations simply because we have so much more to protect and defend-not only for ourselves, but also for our allies. The assumption that American taxpayers should pay extra to defend allies rather than them paying their national costs is not a foreign policy philosophy of free people. It makes Americans taxpaying slaves for our allies' defenses.
Supporters for massive defense spending to fulfill this role as international mentor and police ignore how the financial drain threaten national security. Republicans brag how President Reagan defeated Soviet Russia by forcing it to spend itself into bankruptcy with defense costs. They ignore that he also spent America into debt. America's defense spending increased from $158 to $304 billion or 92% during Reagan's eight years in office. The national debt increased from $995 to $2869 or 188%. Spending for education-the main engine for keeping up with change and retaining superpower status-remained flat. Image what those cost will be under a Romney presidency that promises to increase defense spending to protect the world. America is a wealthy nation that suffers much homelessness, inadequate schools, crumbling infrastructure and inefficient health care compared with many of our allies, because of aggressive spending to control the fate of other nations.
Expanding demands for self-rule internationally that reject autocratic rule and colonialism is why 20th century ideas of American exceptionalism will fail. We doom our future as a superpower if we continue the attitude of "America and the West"- a term used by Romney-as the natural international leader and deciding force in world affairs.