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Kevin Bayona: Global policy an important factor in vote

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Posted: August 27, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The upcoming presidential election will offer the American public a stark choice in fiscal and economic philosophy.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have understandably focused most of their energy trying to convince Americans they can each jump-start the economy and create jobs. Unfortunately, both men have avoided discussing important international issues that will confront the United States over the next few years.

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, recently told MSNBC that diplomatic efforts with Iran over its nuclear program “haven’t worked.” Iran’s nuclear program is moving forward, while the United States gambles on continued diplomacy.

The Obama administration likely hopes Israel avoids initiating any direct military action in Iran, which would force the president to take a stand on the matter only weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

Either way, the United States must eventually act on Iran’s deliberate aggression.

Romney visited Israel in July and re-affirmed his commitment to Israel and its right to defend itself from the Iranian threat. The former governor’s speech in Jerusalem went largely unnoticed back in the U.S.

That’s unfortunate, given the consequences we all face if Iran succeeds in acquiring a nuclear capability. Romney would be well-advised to stump on his position on Iran.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria continues unabated and threatens to unseat the government and its president Bashar Assad. President Obama has pledged financial aid and other support (but not arms) to the Syrian rebels, but has failed to present a comprehensive policy for how the United States will mold a new Syrian state after Assad inevitably falls.

The president’s policy of “leading from behind” has proved to be feckless and has contributed to the decline of America’s historical leadership role. Sadly, we may see in Syria what we have seen in Egypt and Libya, two unpredictable states at the mercy of extremists and radicals.

Romney criticized the president’s “policy of paralysis” back in May, but he, too, has not offered a definitive role for the United States in Syria. Romney has advocated financial aid and support (including arms), but stopped short of articulating how the United States will guide a new Syria into becoming a partner and ally in a very troubled region.

Romney ought to engage the Syrian crisis and re-introduce America’s influence in the Middle East.

Then there’s Russia and China, two global powerhouses, both of which have been increasingly asserting their international clout, most recently by using their veto powers at the UN Security Council to kill a resolution to impose economic sanctions on Syria if Assad failed to implement a peace plan.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, continues to flex his military muscle as evidenced by Russian bombers recently straying into U.S. airspace and a Russian submarine operating in the Gulf of Mexico undetected for weeks.

China’s Hu Jintao has similarly affirmed his intention to challenge the United States around the world, particularly in the Pacific. The Department of Defense recently commissioned a report written by the Center for Strategic and Independent Studies, a Washington-based think tank, which confirmed America’s continued preparation for a possible conflict with the People’s Republic of China through a steady build-up in naval assets throughout the region.

So where are President Obama and Romney on all of these issues? I understand this campaign has been about economic and fiscal issues, but I urge both men to tackle these important international matters and avoid leaving the American people uninformed and unprepared for the global challenges we will face.

An economic recovery, lower unemployment and less debt are important priorities for both the president and Romney, but the United States still has a leadership role it must fill and an uncertain world it must engage.

Kevin Bayona is a Valencia resident.


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