CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
— Democrats this week are fighting back against Republicans who have portrayed the Obama administration's foreign policy as weak and unfocused. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright defended President Obama's handling of foreign affairs in an interview with VOA’s Carolyn Presutti.
The Republicans claim Democrats are ignoring the slaughter in Syria and not doing enough. Democrats countercharge that Republicans don't want to end the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and are apt to start wars in Syria and Iran.
President Obama signed a new START treaty with Russia in 2010. His challenger, Mitt Romney, said that could be Obama's worst policy mistake. The Republican nominee says it puts America's security at stake and accedes to Russian demands. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who served in a Democratic administration, takes issue with that.
"[Romney] Saying that Russia is our number one political problem is living in the past," Albright said. "It's an issue - Russia is a complicated country, but to all of a sudden to give it that number one status is, I think, a complete lack of understanding of what the international situation is, what the problems are in the 21st century world."
Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation disagrees.
"Mitt Romney's foreign policy is not outdated at all. It harkens back to Ronald Reagan's foreign policy: peace through strength. It harkens back to a George W. Bush foreign policy that believed in a strong hand and believed in attacking foes and preempting threats to the world," Darling said.
Albright says the difference in the two parties is that Democrats choose to use diplomacy, rather than force.
"It is essential to listen to other countries, to work on issues together. That is a sign of America's strength," the former secretary of state noted.
Condoleezza Rice held the same position - secretary of state - during the Bush administration. At the Republican convention last week, she said President Obama hasn't made his foreign policy clear.
"My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind," she said.
Obama is expected to reveal more of a second term foreign policy when he gives his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention Thursday. Of course we will hear much more from both candidates in the next two months, leading up to the November election.
Full VOA Interview with Madeleine Albright