Whatever Romney’s accusation that Obama is ‘soft’ on foreign policy, over the past four years he has played the same role as previous presidents, talking of peace but promoting war

Whoever wins the US presidential election this week, US foreign policy will continue its path of foreign intervention, promoting the ‘freedom and democracy’ that allies itself with the US, while turning a blind eye to breaches of human rights and civil liberties in many parts of the world.

In two days we will know who is the next president of the United States. For the first time in more than a decade the result is too close to call.

Polls put Barack Obama and Mitt Romney neck and neck, although many commentators seem to think that Obama is edging ahead. A recent CNN poll spelt out that, while the two remain on equal polling figures, there are big differences in who is planning to vote for each man.

So while 53% of women are planning to vote for Obama, only 44% of men say that they will. That’s a big gender gap. It’s even more stark when we look at racial division: among whites, Romney is well ahead of Obama, by 57% to 40%. And if we take income as one indicator of class, there are clear differences: Obama leads by 56%-40% among those earning less than $50,000 per year, whereas Romney is clearly ahead among those on more than $50,000 per year.

Obama is doing less well among the young, no doubt due at least partly because of the disappointment many feel after they campaigned so enthusiastically four years ago, but he is doing better than four years ago among older people. Obama, perhaps not surprisingly, is ahead in urban and traditionally industrial areas, while Romney is ahead in the South, West, and suburban and rural areas.

So it is clear that if you are poor, black and a woman and living in an urban area you are much more likely to vote for Obama. Despite the lack of enthusiasm for him which is so marked in contrast to his campaign four years ago, there is clearly enough fear of Romney and his right wing Republican views over a range of issues.

One of these is clearly the US president’s attitude to foreign policy. While the economy is the most important issue for most voters, foreign policy was rated as fourth most important. Romney is clearly a hawk in foreign policy, influenced by the neocons, who have never acknowledged the disastrous consequences of their policies in Afghanistan, Iraq or across the Middle East. He was politically formed during the Cold War, when Ronald Reagan was threatening war against Russia.

He has been an enthusiast for taking a hard line on Iran and is openly backed by Israel’s right wing prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Yet Obama’s reputation among the right wing for ‘softness’ or pusillamity in foreign policy is hardly justified. His drone wars have spread dramatically over the past four years. The US still has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, intervenes in Yemen, Somalia, Syria and elsewhere, and will back an Israeli attack on Iran, whatever its reservations.

Funding still flows to Israel, despite its record of oppression of the Palestinians, including the increase in illegal settlements. Guantanamo Bay remains open, in contravention of a direct election pledge by Obama four years ago. A major plank of Obama’s campaign has been that he was responsible for the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Torture camps, extraordinary rendition and attacks on civil liberties have all stained Obama’s record in office.

In this he has played the same role as previous presidents, talking of peace but promoting war. The economic crisis the world’s last superpower now finds itself in, and the threat from the growing economies, especially China, has led it to use it overwhelming military supremacy more rather than less frequently. There is little sign that this will change.

While we should fear Romney’s neocon politics, and his extremely close alliance with Israel in its campaign over Iran, we should remember that whatever the result this week, the war party will win.

From the Stop the War site

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.