Romney advisor Richard Williamson says that the Middle East protests would not have happened under a President Romney:

“In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations — the respect for America has gone down, there’s not a sense of American resolve and we can’t even protect sovereign American property.”

The implicit logic is that the protests are caused by weakness on the part of America.  The protestors are taking advantage of us because they think we will not strike back.  If we are strong, the protestors would be deterred by the threat of American reprisals. So, as President Romney would be strong, foreign policy would be easier as there would be no events like this.

But there is an equally (more?) compelling reverse logic.  The protestors are weak.  They are extremists who have little support in the population.  But if America is aggressive even the moderates in the population will favor fighting fire with fire.  Of course the extremists attacking the embassies would be happy if we withdrew.  But their strategy would also succeed if we respond with aggression.   So, the right move is not to over-react.  Use proxies to fight this battle.  Perhaps the moderates in the local populations themselves would be willing to work with us as they have a lot to lose if tensions escalate and conditions worsen.

The situation calls for smart lateral thinking not a one-size-fits-all bellicosity.

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