With the prospect of Mitt Romney being elected president seeming increasingly likely, it would be appropriate to consider ways in which a Romney/Ryan administration would be demonstrably different from Obama/Biden. On three key issues -- China, the Middle East, and free trade agreements -- we should expect dramatic changes in January 2013 should the Republicans win.
The leadership of the People's Republic of China is likely to be deeply unhappy in case of a Romney victory. Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has made no secret of his impatience with China's currency manipulation, violations of trade agreements, and support for tyrannical regimes, from North Korea to Iran to the Sudan.
Expect more pressure on China to protect American intellectual property, enforce copyright and trademark protection, and crack down on bootlegging and illegal copying of music, film, TV and other U.S.-created entertainment.
U.S. allies in Asia, especially Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, could expect the United States to support them against Chinese bullying over contested territories and waters as well.
On social policy and human rights, Beijing would no longer count on U.S. indifference to their violations of international standards. It would be hard to imagine Vice President Ryan, for example, promising not to "second-guess" China's program of forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations, making excuses, as Biden did, for these horrors.
President Romney has a pretty low bar to cross in this regard; no U.S. administration since Jimmy Carter's has been as accommodating to the Chinese on trade and human rights.
In the Middle East, Israel will once again believe it has a friend in the White House.
For all of Joe Biden's bluster in the vice-presidential debate, practically claiming Israel's prime minister is his long-lost brother, this administration has undermined Israel's security. From its uncertain positions on Iran's nuclear program, to its ambivalence to the Muslim Brotherhood, to its unclear messages toward other U.S. allies in the region, to the disaster of Libya, the Obama Administration has made a mess of our posture in an already volatile region.
What leaders and people in the region want and need from the United States is certainty, not weakness and confusion. While it is no surprise that Israelis greatly prefer Romney to Obama, the same is also true across the region; for all of his initial promise, Obama is now less popular in the Middle East than was President George W. Bush.
In terms of trade, Romney would be a clear and consistent advocate for expanding markets overseas. While Obama has claimed credit for trade agreements finally ratified under his administration, in every case -- South Korea and Colombia, most notably -- these were initiated by President George W. Bush, then delayed for years by the Democrats for no good reasons.
Romney believes in free trade, but would also enforce existing trade agreements through U.S. law and international treaties.
There are many nations in Latin American, Africa and Asia that would be happy to initiate free and fair agreements with the United States. With a Romney administration, less subject to the heavy hand of unions and environmental radicals, it would again be possible to complete these treaties, indispensable to selling U.S. products and services, as well as for reducing prices for U.S. consumers.
The presidency matters in foreign policy, and has even more freedom of action in that arena than in domestic affairs. From day one of a Romney administration, the American people, our allies, and our adversaries would see immediate changes.
When we think about the states and movements that would be most disappointed with a change in presidents -- China, Russia, Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood among them -- it does provide voters with insights on the best course for the United States on Nov. 6.
Dr. Wayne Bowen earned his Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University, and is also an Army veteran.