No new or dramatic foreign policy announcements are expected, and an apparent draft of the GOP platform – due to be released during the convention but accidentally posted online prematurely and made available by Politico – seems to bear that out. CNSNews.com could not confirm the authenticity of the document.
The draft platform criticizes some of the Obama administration’s foreign policy initiatives and its handling of key challenges posed by the likes of Iran, North Korea, China and Russia, accusing the incumbent of “leading from behind.”
The convention coincides with Iran’s hosting of its biggest international summit since the Islamic revolution, basking in the attendance of scores of developing nation leaders as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The event raises question about the success of two of the administration’s foreign policy priorities – leading the world in isolating Iran and deepening engagement with the U.N. in order to benefit U.S. national interests.
The draft platform takes issue with what Republican critics view as an over-reliance by the Obama administration on multilateralism. It notes that international organizations like the U.N. “can, but sometimes do not, serve the cause of peace and prosperity.”
“While acting through them, our country must always reserve the right to go its own way,” it says, declaring the U.N. to be “in dire need of reform.”
“As long as its scandal-ridden management continues, as long as some of the world’s worst tyrants hold seats on its Human Rights Council, and as long as Israel is treated as a pariah state, the U.N. cannot expect the full support of the American people,” it states, alluding to the possibility of conditions being placed on U.S. funding for the U.N.
The draft reaffirms GOP opposition to funding non-governmental organizations that provide or promote abortion abroad (the “Mexico City policy,” instituted by President Reagan in 1984, reversed by President Clinton in 1993, revived by President Bush in 2001, and rescinded by President Obama in 2009), and accuses the Obama administration of using foreign aid to drive its cultural agenda, promoting legalized abortion and homosexual rights on developing countries.
In a nod to libertarian-leaning Republicans advocating slashing foreign assistance, the draft document states that limiting foreign aid spending helps to keep taxes lower, in turn stimulating private sector giving, which tends to be more effective and efficient.
At the same time, it says foreign aid should serve the U.S. national interest, and be seen as an alternative and less costly way of keeping the peace – as long as it is made contingent on measurable results, in line with Millennium Challenge Corporation criteria.
The looming steep, across-the-board “sequestration” defense budget cuts feature prominently, along with the implications for future armed force numbers and capabilities.
The draft platform echoes calls in the 2004 and 2008 GOP platforms for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a policy first endorsed by Republican President George W. Bush in a June 2002 speech – and repeats the 2008 assertion that a peace settlement should be negotiated “without the imposition of an artificial timetable.”
Jerusalem is again identified as Israel’s capital, although the document does not repeat previous platforms’ references to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The draft contains some strong language, with Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela described as “narco-terrorist state,” the regime in Tehran declared to be “unworthy” of the Iranian people and the Russian people said to “deserve better” than the path being followed by their leaders in Moscow.
Cuba’s communist regime is called “a mummified relic of the age of totalitarianism,” and the platform reaffirms principles in U.S. law that make the lifting of trade and travel restrictions conditional on Havana’s legalization of political parties, free elections and a free and independent media.
Obama is criticized for his approach towards Russia, particularly in response to the Kremlin’s rigid opposition to the U.S.-led missile defense project in Europe. The document recalls that the president was overheard telling then outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev last March that he would have “more flexibility” on missile defense in a second term.
“A Republican President will be honest and forthright with the American people about his policies and plans and not whisper promises to authoritarian leaders,” it states.
Many conservatives will be pleased with the priority given to religious freedom, with the platform pledging that a GOP administration would “return the advocacy of religious liberty to a central place in our diplomacy.” It voices strong support for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a body which it alleges has been “shunted aside” by the current administration, and refers to religious freedom concerns in Vietnam, China and across the Middle East.
Foreign policy will feature in several events on the sidelines of the Tampa convention.
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is hosting two discussions. “Peace Through Strength: Restoring American Leadership in the World,” features Romney campaign co-chairman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and FPI director William Kristol.
Another FPI event will examine U.S.-Russia relations, with speakers including former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, Russian opposition lawmaker Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Pavel Khodorkovsky, son of jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who fell foul of President Vladimir Putin by bankrolling opposition parties.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will lead a public policy workshop on energy policy likely to include a foreign policy element.