Every president confronts terrifying crises; it goes along with the territory. Some of them are horrific, even no-win, and I have to wonder which of our current candidates has the courage to make the sort of politically suicidal decision Henry Fonda's president must in Fail Safe.
Which one of our candidates, President Barack Obama or former Governor Mitt Romney, would have the cojones to do the right thing, even if that means we shoot down our own planes, or (God forbid) obliterate an entire American city? And which would refuse to apologize for a terrible American mistake that had tragic consequences? Which one would be influenced by those who see in the tragedy an opportunity to flex American muscle, even if it means ultimately making us less secure?
The U.S. makes mistakes, sometimes individual military personnel make them, sometimes our contract mercenaries; sometimes errors of judgment happen up (far up) the chain of command. Do we insist on the doctrine that we are flawless, and therefore do not make mistakes as a world power, refusing to apologize or make amends? In fact, is the propoer response to up the rhetoric or rattle our sabre louder to exploit a tragic situation?
Mitt Romney and the Republicans scorn what they call President Obama's "apology tour" early in his term. The president's efforts to repair our extremely tarnished foreign policy reputation through careful diplomacy has been called weakness and derided as "European" or "anti-colonialist," or worse.
Hearing Romney's jingoistic rhetoric during his acceptance speech Thursday night makes me wonder how a President Romney might frame America's foreign policy. And watching Fail Safe again makes me shudder to think what a President Romney would do if we should again find ourselves on the brink of war.