Is the world ready?
Is the world ready?
6 They have also keenly praised the US constitution as an inspired document. Ezra Taft Benson, former LDS Church President and former US Secretary of Agriculture, expressed his respect for the constitution by saying that “I would like to pay honor […] to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth.”7 This belief is even canonized in Mormon scripture where it says that God established the constitution to maintain rights and protection for all people. Mormon scripture goes on to state that the Lord raised wise men for the very purpose of establishing the constitution and to redeem the land.8 Of course, no religion affects people in the same way and many Mormons reject the idea of American exceptionalism (including the author of this article). Despite this, the influence of Romney’s faith clearly plays a role in his world view.
While these beliefs may seem surprising to many Europeans, they can be considered mainstream by US standards and by no way unique to Mormonism. A presidential candidate would have a difficult time being elected, particularly by Republicans, if he did not hold such views. The concept of American exceptionalism provides the foundation for Romney’s foreign policy strategy. In the White Paper, Romney mentions several threats to the US and his possible responses to them. Romney believes that America should continue to dominate the world and that the best method for maintaining dominance is to stand up to your rivals. In addition to China, Iran, and radical Islamic terrorism, one of the key threats to the US is posed by Putin’s Russia. Romney’s belief in a dominating America and his hard-line stance towards Putin’s Russia are the parts of the strategy that would have the largest impact on Estonia.
Showing Putin more backbone
Romney has stated: “Russia is a destabilizing force on the world stage. It needs to be tempered.”9 To do this, Romney would reset Obama’s reset policy.10 This entails a strategy to “discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia.”11 For those in Estonia who view Russia as a threat and the US as the best protector from that threat, this can be seen as welcome news. Estonia, as a member in NATO, enjoys the security guarantees that collective security provides. One potential fear related to collective defense is abandonment.12 In a unipolar world, the lone superpower does not need allies as much as in the past, meaning that the superpower has the option of rejecting allies in a time of need. This concern has been raised especially after Obama’s reset policy and with his foreign policy alignment focusing on Asia. Romney’s rhetoric gives much less reason to worry about the possibility of abandonment. However, if the US takes a stand against Russia, it might not be beneficial for Estonia.
A US policy aimed at standing up to Russia also means that it will be more difficult for Estonia to develop cordial relations with Russia – Estonia would feel pressure to side with the US in case of tension. In addition, if Putin decides to retaliate in any way towards the US, he could be tempted to do so against small US allies like Estonia. How this could affect Estonia’s security depends on how much of a threat Russia is and on how this threat is dealt with.
Romney has shown a tendency to change his positions close to election time. While this has been the case on issues such as abortion, it has not affected his foreign policy stance. The sentiments he has endorsed on the campaign trail have been the same as those he expressed in 2008. His foreign policy advisors also share the same views which match his religious convictions. It is possible that his tactics on foreign policy may change, but his Weltanschauung will not. Now we might find out if the world is ready for Mitt Romney’s America.
1 Herring, George C., 2008, From Colony to Superpower: US Foreign Relations Since 1776, Oxford University Press: New York, pp. 831–845.
2 Ibid., p. 946.
3 Romney, Mitt, 2011, “An American Century: A Strategy to Secure America’s Enduring Interests and Ideals,” p. 7, www.mittromney.com/sites/default/files/shared/AnAm… (accessed on 07.01.2012).
4 Ibid., p. 9.
5 Allan, GJ Boris, 2008, “The France of the 21st Century,” p. 1, socialenquiry.org/autonomous/pdf/romneyrant.pdf (accessed on 29.02.2012).
6 Perry, L. Tom, 1976, “God’s Hand in the Founding of America,” lds.org/new-era/1976/07/gods-hand-in-the-founding-… (accessed on 09.01.2012).
7 Benson, Ezra Taft, 1986, “The Constitution—A Glorious Standard,” lds.org/ensign/1987/09/the-constitution-a-glorious… (accessed 09.01.2012).
8 Doctrine and Covenants, 1988, Section 101, Verse 80, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Salt Lake City, pp. 199–200.
9 Romney, Mitt, 2012, “Russia,” www.mittromney.com/issues/russia (accessed on 29.02.2012).
10 Romney, Mitt, 2011, “An American Century,” p. 35.
12 Walt, Stephen, 2009, “Alliances in a Unipolar World,” World Politics, Vol. 61, No. 1, p. 90.