A True Commander-in-Chief

By Guest Contributor

With so much focus on the economy in this election cycle, much of the electorate has been paying little attention to foreign policy. However, with our College’s reputation as an internationally diverse institution, its strong international studies, foreign language programs and global activism on the part of students, foreign policy no doubt affects our campus and the ballot decisions of everyone here.

In their third and final presidential debate last Monday, President of the U.S. Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney went head-to-head on issues of foreign policy. What came out of that debate, perhaps the most civil of the series, was another reminder of the extraordinary job Obama has done as commander-in-chief and the unpreparedness of Romney to deal with global challenges.

For all those critics of Obama’s first term record, or lack thereof, according to Republicans, let’s look at what he’s done as leader of the free world.

The president rid the world of its most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, who had been hiding under the eyes of Pakistani authorities for years. In addition to bin Laden, he took out many members of al-Qaeda’s top leadership, including the second and third-in-commands and the organization’s leader in Iraq.

The President has successfully withdrawn all combat troops from Iraq as of December 2011, finally ending the “dumb war” that squandered almost a trillion dollars out of American coffers and more than 4,000 American lives. This was one of Obama’s priorities coming into office and he kept his word.

The president also presented a nuanced strategy to deal with what was a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. He understood the need for stability, temporarily adding 30,000 troops, yet he held firm to the belief that the U.S. military cannot be muddled in the affairs of the nation forever.

When people of the Arab world rose up against their oppressive rulers, the President took a thoughtful case-by-case approach to support democratic aspirations of the people, whilst keeping American forces out of harm’s way. In Libya, U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies aided the rebels in their fight against Gaddafi, establishing no-fly zones and efficiently disposing the tyrant without losing a single American life.

Regarding Iran, the President enacted tough sanctions that are driving the Iranian economy into the ditch. On Russia, the president signed an extension of the START treaty that aims to decrease the nuclear arsenals of both countries. Finally, the president strengthened the military by repealing the outdated and discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in 2010.

In last Monday’s debate on foreign policy, Romney seemed to agree, on more than one issue, with Obama. On Syria, on Iran, on terrorism. It says a lot about your actions when your opponent basically spends most of the debate saying, “Me too!”

Yet, Romney seemed to think that adopting a loud and obnoxious chest-thumping, America-is-number-one approach to foreign policy would help keep America safer. He wants to increase defense spending even as he refuses to ask the extremely wealthy to contribute their fair share. On his foreign tour back in July, Romney insulted hosts of the London Olympic Games in Britain and offended many by saying that Jewish culture accounts for the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economic development.

He is a candidate that has not thought the issues through, a total opposite from the steady hand with which Obama has led the United States of America on the world stage for the last four years.

Romney likes to say that the President went on an apology tour during his first term. In fact, Obama was cleaning up eight years of foreign policy malarkey left by Romney’s own party. Just as with economic policy, this country cannot afford to go back to policies that have been tried and failed before. We need to move FORWARD as a nation. We need a true commander-in-chief in Obama.