Obama vs. Romney on defense-related issues

In some respects, 2012 presidential candidates Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are not that far apart. For example, they both see a military strike on Iran as a possibility if no other deterrent works. But in other areas, such as defense spending, they hold opposing positions. Here's a comparison of some key defense-related issues as reported by the Associated Press.

Foreign Policy

Both candidates would consider a military strike on Iran as a last resort to prevent that country from getting nuclear weapons. Romney has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel's right to act against Iran's nuclear facilities, though. As for China, Obama has sought penalties against that country for unfair trade. Romney considers Russia to be the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the U.S. and has threatened to brand China as a currency manipulator, which could lead to trade sanctions.


Obama has largely carried forward former president George W. Bush's anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite his promise to shutter the facility. He approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden, and has expanded the use of drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen. Romney has said he would not grant constitutional rights to foreign terrorism suspects and does not consider waterboarding to be torture.

War and Defense Spending

Obama ended the Iraq war and has put plans in place to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 2014. Obama has hammered out an agreement with Congress to cut military funding that would result in major cuts in the size of the Army and Marine Corps over the next decade. Romney would increase defense spending and troop strength by adding nearly $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016. However, he also endorses a 2014 end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan.

Defense Systems Update

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