National issues: Keeping the US safe, strong

November 4, 2012 

FOREIGN POLICY

Obama: The president opposes a near-term military strike on Iran but holds that option open if it proves the only way to stop it from getting nuclear weapons. In Syria, he has declined to repeat the use of air power that helped topple the Libyan regime, instead seeking international pressure against the government.

He has chastised Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in disputed areas, and pressed Israel and the Palestinians to begin a new round of peace talks. He also signed a law to expand military and civilian cooperation with Israel. And he has sought penalties against China for unfair trade but opposes branding that country a currency manipulator.

Romney: The GOP nominee appears to present a clearer U.S. military threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving such a step.

He says he would identify those in the Syrian opposition who share U.S. values, then work with allies to “ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat” the Syrian government. But he has not proposed that the U.S. arm the rebels. Romney associates himself closely with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pledges more military assistance to Israel.

He also has branded Russia the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the United States and threatened to label China a currency manipulator, a move that could lead to broad trade sanctions.

TERRORISM

Obama: The Democrat approved the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He also set policy that the United States would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice that essentially had ended late in George W. Bush’s presidency.

He has largely carried forward Bush’s key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite his 2008 promise to close the prison. He also has expanded the use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen.

Romney: The Republican opposes granting constitutional rights to foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, he refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.

WAR

Obama: He ended the Iraq war as he pledged in 2008 but failed to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement allowing the U.S. to keep a military presence in that country.

He increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all U.S. troops out by the end of 2014. He approved the use of U.S. air power in a NATO-led campaign that topple the Libyan government. Finally, major cuts are coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of an agreement with Congress to cut spending over a decade.

Romney: He proposes increased military spending. He endorses the 2014 end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan, subject to conditions at the time. He would increase the strength of armed forces, including the number of troops and warships, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016. He also has criticized congressional Republicans for negotiating a deficit-cutting deal with the White House that will mean automatic cuts in Pentagon spending next year if a new federal budget deal is not reached.

The Associated Press

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