But the fact is, foreign policy officials, though generally well-meaning, make mistakes. They are susceptible to groupthink and bureaucratic inertia. They harbor human antipathies, shortsightedness and arrogance. As citizens, it behooves us to critically examine the decisions they advocate. Historically, it has been Americans' reluctance to do so and instead just rally around the flag in the face of any perceived threat that has led America, great nation that it is, to make decisions that have at times resulted in human suffering both at home and abroad.
Each of Romney's sound bites posits a straw man that wants America to be weak, that apologizes for America and that does not believe in America's future. In Romney's worldview, that straw man could be President Obama, Romney's GOP opponents or anyone who disagrees with his militant neoconservatism. But in an increasingly interconnected world in which America must cooperate and engage rather than coerce and go it alone, such rhetoric is a profound disservice to the American people.
Rachel Esplin Odell is a research analyst in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is also a volunteer on the foreign policy staff of Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign and a leader of Generation H D.C., a grassroots group supporting Huntsman for president.