With the 57th American presidential election just around the corner, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney is neck-and-neck in the polls with incumbent President Barack Obama. In the final debate of the election campaign, both candidates used a question about America’s role in the world to argue over defence spending.
The exchange led to a memorable and meme-inspiring quip from President Obama, who chided Romney for his lack of understanding about the American military by likening the changes to the U.S. Navy to the fact that the country also no longer needs as many horses and bayonets.
Though a somewhat-entertaining exchange, the question didn’t really provide a lot of answers about Romney’s plans for defence spending. In fact, it seems that Romney’s campaign isn’t exactly sure how they will achieve their goal of strengthening the American military.
Bloomberg News attempted to nail down some of the finer points of Romney’s defence plans, after he pledged to spend as least 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product on the military. (Gopal Ratnam and Tony Capaccio, “Romney Wouldn’t Meet Defence Spending Pledge for Years“, Bloomberg News, 22 October 2012). A number of analysts find this figure a little vague:
Placing a price tag on Romney’s defense plan may be difficult because the 4 percent target isn’t “a firm goal of their campaign,” Michael O’Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution, a policy group in Washington, said in an interview. “They use it as an aspirational goal. Hell would have to freeze over and deficits would have to disappear for this to be even conceivable.”
As campaign staff remain ambiguous on how a future Republican President would actually pay for these defence promises, Romney’s military plans continue to be a moving target.
Photo: James B. Currie