Bill Keller’s per-foreign policy debate column is good for a laugh. In ostensible purpose of the column is to give advice to Romney about what he should talk about in tonight’s debate. Of course, before giving that advice, Keller has this to say
I’d describe myself as a qualified admirer of President Obama’s foreign policy. It is reactive and rarely inspiring, but judicious and flexible. Romney shows little instinct for a dangerously complex world. But in the spirit of nonpartisanship, here’s my advice to the challenger.
Keller then goes on to tell Romney to adopt and agree with all of Obama’s foreign policy. How anyone can be an admirer of a foreign policy where the world’s superpower leads from behind, dithers on Iran, concedes to Russia, is paralyzed on Syria and has lost any credibility in Libya is beyond me. The only point in Keller’s piece I can get behind is his call to stop bashing China for currency manipulation. Keller is right – it is an easy line to get applause on (and Obama was no less enthusiastic about going after China in the previous debate), but easy applause does not mean good policy. China should be viewed as a strategic rival – it is building up its military, has revisionist aims and, economically, is very much at fault for an atmosphere that breeds the theft of U.S. intellectual property – but that doesn’t mean that currency manipulation is our main problem. In fact, by keeping the currency weak it makes lots of goods cheaper for Americans to buy.