Political Animal


October 08, 2012 11:58 AM Money and Magic

By Ed Kilgore

So the prepared text for Mitt Romney’s latest “big foreign policy speech,” this time at VMI, is now available, and if there is anything new in it, it sure doesn’t jump out at you. It’s all about the Greater Middle East. And to the extent that there is any coherent theme, it’s this:

America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them… no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them… and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.

Add in more defense spending, and that’s it. The “no friend” phrase, of course, refers very clearly to Mitt’s endless demands that the United States officially declare that whatever Benjamin Netanyahu chooses to say or do represents our own policy as well. He might as well make Bibi his Secretary of State. And the “no enemy” bit mainly refers to Iran, though also to all the Islamic bad guys who are supposedly laughing at Obama’s weakness.

What’s most interesting about Romney’s foreign policy rap, other than its belligerant emptiness, is that it is so remarkably close to the underlying foreign policy principle of the Bush-Cheney administration, which treated the entire world as composed of small and unruly children whose most important need was for “resolve” and “discipline” from Big Daddy. I thought we abundantly learned in those years that “resolve” was a poor substitute for skillful diplomacy and a foreign policy/national security strategy a bit more complicated than “cross us and we’ll blow you up.” Romney does talk a lot, though not with any clear connection to the Middle East, about free trade. At a time when Americans are more than a little ambivalent about free trade, does he really think that is going to be our triumphant, self-evidently attractive formula for addressing the world’s or the Middle East’s problems?

I dunno. Maybe we’ll discover after the election that some sort of micro-targeting is motivating Mitt’s late foreign policy push. At the moment, though, it just brings back bad memories of The Decider and his sinister Vice President.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 08, 2012 12:23 PM:

    Yes, Mitt's going for Bush's cowboy-swagger idea of diplomacy, but he'll be swinging a young dick - Paulie "Lyin'" Ryan.

    The rest of the world has to be looking at us, and saying, "OH NO! NOT AGAIN!! WTF is wrong with you people?"

    And the answer is, FOX "News" and Right Wing Radio Rushwanda, and their effect on our MSM, where nowaday's, anyone who asksor answers a question without framing it conservatively, is a godlss Socialist, bent on America's destruction.

  • Frankie Gawell on October 08, 2012 12:29 PM:

    I almost spit out my coffee when Romney said that Obama has not signed any new trade agreements. He signed ones with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.

  • stormskies on October 08, 2012 12:30 PM:

    and i am sure our corporate media will show the American people just how freaked out Europe is at the prospects of Romney as president will be...

    oh wait .. or course not .. that would upend their agenda ..the corporate agenda that allowed corporation like GE to make billions from the Iraq/Afghanistan wars ..

  • POed Lib on October 08, 2012 12:34 PM:

    I can provide a short version, and I don't even need to read the speech:

    "I promise to kiss Bibi's schwantze every morning, to faithfully execute every task that Bibi gives me, and to give Bibi a timely report about everything we do in the US"

  • SadOldVet on October 08, 2012 12:41 PM:

    Missed the boat again, Ed.

    John Bolton is going to be Willard's Secretary of State. Bunny NutAndYahoo is going to be his Foreign Policy Advisor.

  • T2 on October 08, 2012 12:44 PM:

    Romney's Foreign Policy "advisers" are all the worst of the Bush crew, so naturally Romney's "policy" is a mix of NeoCon chest-thumping and Military/Industrial Complex money spending - with little or no real targets other than general "arabs" and "muslims".

  • Ray Waldren on October 08, 2012 12:59 PM:

    So when Kaiser Mitt gets the word from his little buddy Ben ...

  • Peter C on October 08, 2012 1:01 PM:

    It is the really small dogs which bark and snarl and raise their hackles. Big dogs (Mastiffs and St. Bernards and such) don't need to posture because there are few things big enough to threaten them.

    Republicans are excessively bellicose because they are especially cowardly. When we spend as much on defense as the next 52 nations COMBINED, there is little cause for excessive fear. Anyone who says we need to spend MORE, needs their head examined.

  • bleh on October 08, 2012 1:10 PM:

    I thought we abundantly learned in those years that “resolve” was a poor substitute for skillful diplomacy and a foreign policy/national security strategy a bit more complicated than “cross us and we’ll blow you up.”

    Really? We learned that?

    Has anyone told the Wall Street Journal? Fox? AIPAC? The Cranky Old White Guy demographic?

    You may want to reissue the memo...

  • IntelliWriter on October 08, 2012 1:12 PM:

    All of his speeches are the same empty rhetoric. How many times throughout his campaign has he given a "major [fill in the blank] speech"? It usually gets scant attention because he doesn't SAY anything.

    I think his real foreign policy lies in his gaffe-prone foreign trip this past summer and his declaration on hidden tape that the Mid-East peace process is dead. That and 2 trillion extra in defense spending likely sums it up nicely.

  • Col Bat Guano on October 08, 2012 1:12 PM:

    Sounds like Mitt believes we need a trimuph of the will.

  • exlibra on October 08, 2012 2:47 PM:

    The event was closed to the towns people -- very unusual for VMI, since both it and W&L University try to open everything (concerts, plays, political events etc) to everyone most of the time. Tells you how secure he is in his foreign policy.

    There was a counter rally outside, though I didn't make it, being told of it (via e-mail) much too late to do me any good. Too bad, since I had my R-as-Pinocchio's head all ready for display (that's the red-white-and-blue R from Romney's campaign, with a hat, eyes on the red and the blue strips, and a long nose protruding from the white strip)

    "offshore esSecte". I thought that was his *domestic* policy. But, I guess, what with his subservience to Nutty Yahoo, it might be applicable to his foreign one, too.

  • yellowdog on October 08, 2012 2:49 PM:

    Mitt Romney is so ill-prepared on foreign policy that he does not know the basics. He does not know who to listen to. He does not know history.

    Consider the New START treaty with Russia. He opposed the treaty for baseless, craven, and fact-challenged reasons. (I sense a theme...) GOP Sen. Dick Lugar has kept his smackdown of Romney on this issue on his website: http://lugar.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=326277 It is still worth reading.

  • SadOldVet on October 08, 2012 5:22 PM:

    Congrats, Ed...

    You were pointed out (positively) by Blue Texan at CrooksAndLiars.com

  • the pedestrian on October 09, 2012 1:16 AM:

    He is wholly owned and corrupted by the pursuit of profit. What he knows or doesn't know, after an Ivy League education, truly means nothing. He will do what he is told by the Plutocrats that he serves. The more the connection with Bibi is exposed, the more I fear for the war that they passionately desire.