Who is right? I think both are right. America's role in the world must be re-defined and explained to its citizens. The presidential candidates should be asked about it. We can't afford to go everywhere and do everything. It isn't fair to our young men and women who are asked to die, or lose limbs, and it isn't fair to taxpayers who must pay for these wars.
Still, America has an interest in promoting liberty and freeing people from tyranny. That interest is moral as well as self-serving. Democracies don't attack each other. But when and how should we act.
The flaw in Romney's otherwise good speech was his re-statement of the policy of the current administration and previous ones that a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel is the key to Middle East peace. There is no evidence the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim world shares this goal. Radical Islamists teach, preach and act as if their objective is the elimination of Israel. The Palestinian leadership has not lived up to a single promise or agreement, while Israel has sacrificed land and lives in the pursuit of a Western mirage.
Western values -- including religious values -- can't be forced on people who don't share them. There is a fundamental gap between Islamic cultures and the West that cannot be easily bridged by diplomacy or military might.
Romney's VMI speech sounded good to some American ears, but what does it mean to the rest of the world, which faces not invading armies, but invading terrorists without uniforms or a nation-state? Perhaps Bob Schieffer will ask Romney and President Obama to answer these questions.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.