Mitt Romney’s Misguided, Mistaken, and Misbegotten Foreign Policy
Today, Vice President Biden gave a speech at New York University laying out a broad attack on Mitt Romney — a candidate whose only foreign policy experience comes from shipping jobs overseas — and his approach to foreign policy. Biden said that Romney was relying on the American people developing a “collective amnesia” about the policies of the past — namely those of the Bush administration and the Cold War — that Romney is advocating a return to. Romney’s desire for amnesia is probably particularly true when it comes to a disastrous press call that his campaign held today in order to attempt to attack the president on foreign policy.
Here’s the rundown.
Back to the Cold War
In his speech today, the vice president called Romney “one of a small group of Cold War holdovers” — a reference to Romney’s recent and much-maligned statement that Russia remains “without question our number one geopolitical foe.” This misguided and mistaken view of foreign policy was much in evidence on today’s Romney press call.
One Romney adviser, former Navy Secretary John Lehman, brought up the threat posed by the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist in 1991:
We are seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us. In fact the only response from us is to announce the early retirement of the last remaining ice breaker.
Another Romney adviser, former Ambassador Pierre Prosper, launched a multiply false attack on the president involving Czechoslovakia, a country which ceased to exist in 1992:
The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, yet Russia does nothing but obstruct us, or efforts in Iran and Syria.
Mitt Romney himself recently made a reference to the “Soviets” when trying to attack the president for reaching a far-reaching arms reduction treaty that helped pave the way for greater Russian cooperation on Iran, among other things.
Back to Bush
Many of Romney’s top foreign policy advisers are the same Bush administration hands and neoconservatives that helped push us into the Iraq War. Leading the attack on Romney’s behalf today was Dan Senor, best known for his role as senior adviser to and spokesman for Paul Bremer, the U.S. viceroy that headed the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is widely blamed for botching the early days of the occupation.
In October of 2003, Senor infamously declared that “the good news is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people have embraced the liberation and are grateful for all we are doing to reconstruct their country.” He also boasted that Iraq “was a model for the region” of a nation at peace with its citizens and claimed that “ninety-five percent of the country is at peace and returning to normal daily life.”
Steve Benen from MSNBC makes the key point:
When Team Romney needs a credible GOP voice to attack the Obama administration’s foreign policy and advise the inexperienced former governor on international affairs, it turns to this guy.
Remember, the Republican National Committee believes the party’s agenda in 2013 will simply be a warmed over version of Bush’s policies. Romney surrounding himself with officials from the Bush/Cheney administration helps drive the point home.
As ThinkProgress Security’s Eli Clifton wrote today, the vice president also laid into Romney for his “loose talk” about war with Iran:
Biden’s harshest reprimand of Romney was saved for the former Massachusetts governor’s critique of President Obama’s Iran policy. Romney has swung between essentially endorsing the Obama administration’s policy of diplomacy plus pressure — via sanctions — to calling for outright military action against Iran. Biden said:
Here’s what he says. He says we need “crippling sanctions,” apparently unaware that through President Obama’s leadership we produced just that, crippling sanctions. He emphasizes the need for “a credible military option” and “a regular presence of aircraft carrier groups” in the region, apparently ignorant of the fact that’s exactly what our policy is and what we’re doing.
Biden singled out Romney’s criticisms of the White House’s Iran-policy as “counterproductive” and promoting “loose talk of war” that could ultimately hurt the international sanctions regime engineered by the administration:
I think it’s fair to say the only step we could take that we aren’t already taking is to launch a war against Iran. If that’s what governor Romney means by a “very different policy” then he should tell the American people. He should say so. Otherwise the governor’s tough talk about military action is just that, talk. And I would add, counterproductive talk. Folks, loose talk about a war has incredible negative consequences in our efforts to end Iran’s nuclear quest. And let me tell you why, because it unsettles world oil markets. It drives up oil prices. When oil prices go up, Iran’s coffers fill up, undermining the effect of the sanctions that are already in place. This type of Romney Talk is just not smart.
Mitt Romney also shares something else with George W. Bush — a lackadaisical attitude about capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. In March 2002, just months after the 9/11 attacks, Bush said, “I truly am not that concerned about him. I am deeply concerned about Iraq.” “I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you,” Bush added. In 2007, Romney said that catching bin Laden would be “insignificant” and it’s “not worth moving heaven and earth.”
No wonder that Romney surrogate and vice-presidential contender Marco Rubio neglected to mention either al-Qaeda or Iraq during his “major address” on foreign policy yesterday.
IN TWO SENTENCES: As Vice President Biden said today, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. If Governor Romney had been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?”
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