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By Staff | Nov 4, 2011

Back before the 2000 Presidential election, I was visiting Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, S.D. At the base entrance there was a big sign that read “Bush-Cheney: “Help Is On The Way.”

It was an effective way of saying that the military had been allowed to deteriorate during the Clinton presidency and George W. was pledging to restore military readiness, if elected president and commander in chief.

The military didn’t like Bill Clinton and I suspect that they voted heavily Republican that year. Bush-Cheney aggressively used the military to not only fight the war on terrorism, but the war of choice in Iraq.

The U.S. military was built up and then it has been worn down by civilian mismanagement of the Iraq war and a decade of prolonged fighting. The U.S. military now needs some rest and rehabilitation both physically and mentally.

President Obama is not Clinton-Gore relative to the military. Military veterans do not believe that they were well used by the civilian leadership over the past decade. In fact, there could have been some signs in front of military bases reading “Obama-Biden: Thank You.”

In terms of the military and foreign policy, Obama has been substantively moving policy toward the use of the military to higher ground, and even many conservatives support it. He has expanded special forces and quadrupled the number of drone strikes, which has been very effective

Other than the barrage of cruise missiles and logistics support, Obama let Europe handle Libya, which was the correct policy. Libya was their strategic interest and they stepped up for a change.

The GOP neo-cons have a line they like to repeat – Obama is an apologist for America, because he really doesn’t have anything else that they can make up to say. As Ron Paul puts it, such charges are “political propaganda.”

Paul sees no difference between Obama and Bush on foreign policy. He should look harder. The neo-cons brought the U.S. down to where it had the lowest respect in the world in our history from other nations, even our allies, and they are unapologetically as arrogant and stupid as ever.

Neo cons cannot differentiate the difference between being feared by the rest of the world and being respected by it. Their primary foreign policy directive is that if we kill enough of “them” the rest will fall into line. How has that worked out for us?

The neo cons were a strategic disaster, playing into the hands of our enemies by weakening our economy, alienating our allies and depleting our military resources.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done a heck-of-a good job restoring frayed foreign policy relations and she has the highest approval ratings of anyone in the administration or in Washington.

The opinion of the world toward the U.S. has raised significantly post George W. World leaders are working with us again.

It would be hard to campaign to the right of Obama on the military and foreign policy, but Mitt Romney intends to do just that. He is the neo cons’ neo con.

Not only are we going to fix our deficit, but he plans to significantly boost military spending to expand our military. He will be conveniently vague as to how he will accomplish that.

Romney is going to depict China as our next great enemy so that he can use China as a foil. Anybody who doesn’t see the need to spend ourselves deeper in a hole to challenge the military threat purportedly posed by China will be depicted as soft on defense.

The GOP has always done this because it works. Romney is preparing to do it again. War is an economic stimulus, and when you have a big military build-up there is a tendency to find a reason to use it.

When political leaders get in trouble at home they often try to create a foreign threat to use as an excuse or diversion to draw attention away from the real problems. Iran has volunteered for that job.

That is not Obama, but it is Romney. He is already greasing the skids toward a slide in that direction as he builds China into being some kind of villain that we should immediately attack on the trade front and prepare to challenge militarily.

Americans don’t understand China. I don’t profess to understand China. I understand that they don’t think like we do and they will not respond how we want them to, to the message we sent them in legislation like the China Currency Bill. Humiliation will not reap Chinese cooperation.

Obama is on a high wire politically with trade and China. He is beholden to his labor support, yet knew that the FTAs had to be ratified. He has also played down the China bill hoping like heck that Speaker Boehner doesn’t let it pass the House, so he is not put on the spot.

Romney is the “damn the torpedoes, make more torpedoes – instead of funding food stamps – shoot China first and talk later” kind of neo con that makes Obama’s shortcomings on trade and foreign policy look relatively minor.

He must not think that he can beat Obama on the strength of his economic plan. Romney, most often criticized for not being conservative enough, is no moderate on trade and foreign policy.

Iran is a real enemy so why make another up?I have been disappointed that Obama has not done more on trade, but Romney scares me.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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