By Mehmet Yegin
The Presidential race in America is continuing at a great pace. By coming into prominence through their gaffes, Republican candidates created sometimes worry sometimes puzzlement in world public opinion. However, a considerable part of the candidates making interesting expressions are no longer in the race. There are four Republican candidates left to compete with Obama: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Well, how do these candidates perceive the world? How probable to encounter “a second Bush” case that is the biggest worry about Republican Party?
The foreign policy aspects of all three Republican Party candidates, except for Ron Paul, are like an updated version of the Bush’s foreign policy. Ron Paul has a more domestic oriented and isolationist aspect. It can be said that other candidates are still looking at the world under the effect of 9/11 attacks. Republican candidates think that radical Islamist terrorist attacks are still a considerable threat. They believe that even if US turns to its own internal problems, world will not leave them alone. Moreover, candidates who are disturbed by the growth of China and Russia assert that more strict implementations about these countries should be realized. Finally, while candidates state that Israel should be supported indisputably, they find the efforts of rapprochement to Arab countries meaningless.
Mitt Romney, old governor of Massachusetts, seems to be the most prepared candidate among others. He is the only candidate who formed a foreign policy team with a vision of clear and detailed foreign policy. Although he is more liberal in internal policy, he becomes a hawk when it comes to foreign policy. Romney’s foreign policy desires are to reverse the softening relations with Russia back, and to take serious measures against the rise of Russia. It would be wrong to think that China will not get its share from this approach. Thus asserting that he will not condone the human rights violations, Romney also promised to support the opposition in China. Having a strict attitude towards Iran, Romney thinks that more sanctions should be applied and Iran should be prevented to get nuclear weapons at any price.
Mitt Romney criticizes the policy of drawing soldiers back from Iraq and he opposes to draw soldiers back from Afghanistan in a hurry. Believing that U.S. need for a strong army will maintain, he gives signals that he won’t decrease military budget. Being not experienced on foreign policy as a governor and his foreign policy team consists of 80 percent of Bush’s old personnel influences his hawkish attitudes indisputably. From this aspect, this team will maintain its effect on the foreign policy, if Romney wins the elections.
Newt Gingrich is a plain spoken person and thinks that foreign policy should be plain too. He thinks that Obama’s effort for reconciliation and rapprochement to Islamic world is not more than hiding the truth. According to Former Speaker of Congress, USA is still in a battle with Islamists. His support of Israel is indisputable since he claims that Palestinians are “an invented community”. On the other hand, Gingrich does not take kindly the high-cost wars. Stating that he will follow a more hawkish policy with spending less money, Gingrich defines himself as a “cheap hawk”. As a pragmatic candidate he evaluates the war as the last solution and relies on secret operations at most. According to Gingrich, U.S. dependency on Middle East should be decreased. For this, it is essential to give prominence to the alternative energy resources.
Another candidate, Rick Santorum highlights the necessity of preserving the particular position of US. Criticizing Obama’s policy of “leading from behind”, Santorum claims that this policy reduces the U.S. to an ordinary country. Adopting a policy at least as hawkish as other candidates, Former Pennsylvania Senator has strict approaches towards China, Iran and Syria. Again, like the other candidates he pays attention to Israel and wants to take steps to prevent Israel to be affected negatively of the consequences of mobility the Arab world. The most important difference separating Santorum from other candidates is that he cares humanitarian aid to countries under difficult conditions, especially to African countries. As a pious Catholic Santorum evaluates this as sharing with the neighbor who is in need. At the same time he makes no bones about saying these countries may fall under influence of China or Islamists unless America helps them.
Finally, Ron Paul is different from other candidates in the sense that he does not have a hawkish stance and he is in ease for Israel issue. Paul is against American interventionism asserting that USA should focus on internal issues. Paul states that intervening in other countries increases the hostility towards America and causes energy and money waste. Believing that defense budget of USA should be decreased in a more efficient way, Paul highlights via this approach that he takes double the amount of aid other candidates take from the soldiers. While thinking that USA should decrease the amount of foreign aid, he does not take Israel differently from this argument. According to Ron Paul USA should primarily contact world public opinion through commercial activities and his try to remove the barriers in front of the markets.
Because his approach is very different from an ordinary republican approach, he is exposed to a lot of criticism. Some find Paul worse than Obama, while there are some who extravagate by likening his approaches to Islamist terrorists. Having votary supporters but limited in number, it is a low probability for Paul to compete as a Republican candidate in November. On the other hand, his candidacy out of Republican Party may change the balance of the elections seriously.
As a result, world public opinion would probably prefer Obama against the probability of Republican Party to make the foreign policy hawkish. Is that so American public opinion will make the same preference?
USAK Center for American Studies