It is said this election will turn on domestic and economic issues, and barring any major international upheavals, this is probably right. But it is also true that our domestic and economic success is both a central cause and an enduring benefit of our global leadership -- our ability and willingness to shape international events in line with our interests and values. We are now engaged in a great debate over whether America's core challenge is how to manage our own decline as a great power -- or how to renew our capacity to carry on our proud tradition of world leadership. Ultimately, this is what's at stake in this election, and the stakes could not be higher.
For the past four years, President Barack Obama has unfortunately pursued policies that are diminishing America's global prestige and influence. And this begins at home. The president's policies are undermining the domestic sources of our great power -- inhibiting the dynamism of our private sector, inflating our already unsustainable debt, failing to sign new free trade agreements, and proceeding with nearly half a trillion dollars in cuts to our defense budget, while nearly $500 billion in additional defense cuts are looming under sequestration, cuts that the president's own defense secretary, Leon Panetta, has said would be "disastrous." This is a recipe for America's decline as a great power, and we cannot afford to continue on that course.
A Republican administration under Mitt Romney's leadership could finally get us on the right fiscal and economic heading at home. But it would do more than that. Republicans would use the domestic renewal of our great power to lead more actively and confidently in the world. A Republican foreign policy under Romney would be built on the abiding conviction that America's destiny is still in our hands -- that decline is not a reality to which we must submit, but a choice we cannot afford to make. Republicans would restore America's proudest traditions of global leadership -- traditions that, at their best, are truly bipartisan. From diplomacy and trade to defense and human rights, Republicans would summon the will, the wisdom, and the national confidence to lead more actively in the world -- not from behind, but from the front.
First, Republicans would restore America's leadership in support of our friends and allies. I travel all across the world, and everywhere I go, our friends and allies tell me they want more of America -- more of our trade, more of our diplomatic support, more of our security cooperation, and more of our moral leadership -- but they feel they are being left to settle for less.
This is the feeling in Israel and the Gulf, where the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is existential, but trust in America's willingness to address the problem has never been lower.
This is the feeling across Central and Eastern Europe, where Vladimir Putin's Russia still casts a long shadow, but where many of our allies believe their national interests are being sacrificed by the administration's repeated, and largely unrequited, attempts to reset relations with Moscow.