Romney: US still "exceptional"


Romney wants America back on top, OK everyone?


John Raedle

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes in America.

The rest of the world, though, has him pretty worried.

In Romney's first foreign-policy speech on Friday, he raised a lot of spectres around the globe, according to a pre-released copy of the speech, which he's delivering today at The Citadel, the military college in South Carolina. 

Looking into the future, Romney talked about Iran's "suicidal fanatics" who could "blackmail the world," the potential destruction of Israel, and the possibility of another regional war; the Taliban reclaiming Afghanistan, a nuclear Pakistan run by jihadists, an economically empowered China going down "a darker path" to build a "global alliance of authoritarian states," and of course, Russia on a quest to rebuild its Soviet empire.

So, what predictions did he have for Latin America?

Let's go to the script:

To our South, will the malign socialism of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, in tight alliance with the malign socialism of Castro’s Cuba, undermine the prospects of democracy in a region thirsting for freedom and stability and prosperity?

Our border with Mexico remains an open sore. Will drug cartels dominate the regions adjoining the United States, with greater and greater violence spilling over into our country? Will we have failed to secure the border and to stem the tide of illegal immigrants? And will drug smugglers and terrorists increasingly make their way into our midst?

In his speech, Romney offered his solution:  

This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

Why America, you ask? Because, he said, "America is exceptional."

His specific plan for Latin America included a promise to advance economic opportunity, though he didn't elaborate on how he'd do it. He said he would also contrast the "benefits of democracy, free trade, and free enterprise against the material and moral bankruptcy of the Venezuelan and Cuban model."

Cuba and Venezuela aren't big fans of the U.S., anyway, so if Romney were elected president, it seems like those relationships won't change.  

But why only focus on the two countries that irritate the U.S.?

And how will this tough talk play in the rest of Latin America, among allies like Mexico, Colombia, and economic power Brazil? 

The U.S. is already slipping in influence in the region, due to increased trade alliances between Latin American countries and China. Many of these countries, despite the aid they receive, aren't likely to respond well to paternalism or swagger from their big neighbor, especially since they've been developing pretty quickly already.

The U.S. is no longer their only economic partner, and no longer the only country that can support them as they pursue their own priorities.

Brazil stands on its own as a powerful member of the BRIC nations. It's even promised to help bail out the EU of its economic crisis, as the US struggles with its own listing economy. 

Mexico partners with the US in its fight against the cartels, but it moved swiftly this week to shoot down a suggestion by Texas governor Rick Perry that US troops come down to win the drug war.

No nation wants to feel like its being bossed around, and especially not by a hegemon whose economic clout, and even its military dominance, appears to be faltering. Forcing everyone to keep believing in American exceptionalism could be a good way to quell that sentiment altogether.