Here is the seventh issue of Capital Brief, from July 24, analyzing Mitt Romney's (still vague) defense policy proposals and their consequences.
Click below to read the Brief.
Capital Brief, n°7 – July 24, 2012
Romney in Europe & Israel:
What Expectations? Will Electoral Dynamics Change?
· Trip likely to be heavy on form and symbolism, light on substance with no overt criticism of Obama’s foreign policy to be expected.
· Intended to provide Americans with image of Romney as presidential – and the chance to imagine someone other than Obama in that role. Still, the single focus of this election is the economy with almost no attention paid to foreign policy.
· Romney’s agenda (UK, Israel, Poland):
o In London: D. Cameron, N. Clegg, W. Hague, E. Miliband, T. Blair, Olympics Opening Ceremony. His wife co-owns dressage horse in competition there.
o In Israel: B. Netanyahu, S. Peres, S. Fayyad. Will also meet S. Mofaz, NOT M. Abbas. This will be Romney’s fourth trip to Israel, the last in January 2011. Romney’s known Netanyahu since the 1970s via Boston Consulting Group.
o In Poland: B. Komorowski, D. Tusk, R. Sikorski, L. Walesa. Romney invited by Walesa who snubbed Obama in May 2011 and questioned Peace Prize.
· Obama team increasing pressure on Romney to express foreign policy vision abroad; question allegiance to his own remarks (Flournoy: Will Romney call Russia an enemy in Warsaw?); contrast Romney’s destinations with Obama’s 2008 trip to Afghanistan and Iraq (troops, commanders), and European capitals.
· Even if Romney’s hawkish foreign policy talk could be chalked up to an electoral contrast with Obama, Romney’s choice of stops reminiscent of Bush – the places were selected for sharing US’s “love of liberty” and “fortitude to defend it.”
· Interesting to note where Romney is NOT going: namely Berlin, Brussels and Paris. Berlin, so critical in the solution to the Eurozone crisis; Paris with its brand new administration (Socialist); and Brussels as the power center of official Europe. Does this reflect unwillingness to dialogue with EU power centers, or signal a preference for bilateral relations rather than engaging the EU as an official actor?
· How will Romney be received, especially in Israel where he has been aiming to develop closer links while also vowing to do the “opposite” of Obama there. Romney certainly hopes the trip will help win Jewish voters back home, increasingly cool on Obama (Gallup: 64% Jewish voters favor Obama now vs. 78% in Nov. 2008)
· Trip unlikely to give Romney major boost back home:
o Obama has effectively taken national security and foreign policy off the table. In some cases Obama has proven tougher than his predecessor – increased use of drones, plus he got Bin Laden. Despite any grumbling about his policy to Syria, most Americans oppose military action there.
§ Recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans trust Obama on foreign policy: 52% favor president vs. 40% Romney. An ambitious window to try to close given Romney’s troubles with more critical gaps – namely with Hispanics.