Charting out the 2012 U.S. presidential contenders on Iran, Afghanistan, the military, and the world ahead.
Last October, Mitt Romney strode onto a stage in an ornate hall at South Carolina's Citadel, one of the nation's oldest military academies, to launch a series of political broadsides against President Obama. "I will never, ever apologize for America," he thundered. "In Barack Obama's profoundly mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States." The coming era, Romney vowed, would be an "American Century," with the U.S. retaining the world's biggest economy and strongest military. A Romney presidency, he promised, would usher in that era.
The speech was more than just an opportunity for Romney to flex his rhetorical muscles. It represented his first--and, to date, only--attempt to articulate a specific and detailed philosophy of how he would act to keep America safe in an era of rapidly evolving threats from shadowy terrorist groups and rogue nations. The Republican deliberately drew contrasts with Obama's positions on issues ranging from the size of the armed forces to whether, or when, the United States should intervene unilaterally overseas. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the speech was its necessity: Republicans have for decades outpolled Democrats on national security; this time around, Obama and Romney are basically tied, with Obama drawing more support in several recent surveys. Romney has little choice but to play offense.