The July/August issue of Foreign Affairs contains articles by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The magazine says that in its series “Campaign 2008,” it will present a series of essays by “top presidential candidates.”
All last week, the commentariat observed that foreign policy is a central part of this campaign, for both parties. I’m sure it’s a big part of the campaign for WhirledView’s readers. So let me try to summarize the main points of both articles. They’re both pretty wordy and stuffed with campaign-speak. What I want to do is to try to get to the substance. I’ll be glad to entertain comments from the campaigns if they think I’ve got something wrong.
I’m not trying to make a cheat-sheet, Cliff’s Notes for the two articles. I do think, however, that getting down to the bare bones of what is said in them is useful in comparing the candidates. I urge you to read the articles themselves; they contain the candidates’ perception of the problems and more that you can use to judge the candidates.
I have, in many cases, used the words of the essays, but I have truncated sentences so that I will not use quotation marks or indented quotes unless I am using significant portions of the essays.
Just two comments: I found this misleading in Obama’s essay:
As George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn have warned, our current measures are not sufficient to meet the nuclear threat.He seems to be referring to an op-ed written by those men in the January 4, 2007 Wall Street Journal. But they were advocating eliminating nuclear weapons, and Obama’s recommendations fall far short of that.
It was much easier to work through Obama’s essay than Romney’s. This may be because of my inclinations on the subject matter, but I think it is more a matter that Romney spent much more time excoriating the weaknesses of the past (particularly, but not exclusively, under Democratic presidents) than providing his recommendations for the future.