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Another Romney Adviser Refers To Russia As The Soviet Union

It’s been rather obvious for months now that Mitt Romney and his foreign policy advisers advocate a far more confrontation approach toward Russia than previous Presidents have taken. The odd, or perhaps interesting, thing is that, more than once, Romney or one of the campaign spokespersons has made a statement where they refer to Russia as the Soviet Union, a nation that hasn’t existed for more than 20 years. Back in April, former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman warned of the Soviet threat in the Arctic, for example, and the candidate had his own fruedian slip later than month. Indeed, before April was over the campaign was warning of the Soviet threat to Czechoslovakia, despite the fact that neither country even exists anymore.

Well, it’s happened again:

A foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign warned against policies that would aid “the Soviet Union” Wednesday, making him at least the third person from Team Romney — including Romney himself — to refer to a country that hasn’t existed since 1991 in the course of attacking President Obama’s foreign policy.

The Obama campaign has already accused Romney of having a “Cold War mindset” on foreign policy, so it naturally seized on a clip of longtime Republican diplomat Rich Williamson, a Romney adviser, speaking at the Brookings Institution Wednesday. Williamson was condemning the Obama approach to Syria.

He called the country “strategically important to the Soviet Union.”

Now, of course I don’t think that Romney or his advisers think the USSR still exists, they’re not that dumb. However, it’s odd that this mistake has been made so often and it makes one wonder why it would happen. Back in April, I suggested one purpose behind rhetoric like this:

It strikes me that rhetoric of this type serves a very direct, deliberate purpose and that it’s been part of a theme among hard-core conservatives for years now. in some cases dating back to before President Obama even took office. There’s no denying that Russia is a significant power that has its own national interests, and that it acts in a manner to protect those interests that often are not compatible with our own. To compare that, however, to a nation that was, at least rhetorically, devoted to the worldwide spread of Communism is patently silly and simplistic. Then again, silly and simplistic seems to play pretty well when it comes to foreign policy among the masses on the right.

To that I’d add the possibility that there are people in the foreign policy establishment on the right who don’t recognize the differences between Russia and the old Soviet Union, and think that our policies in 2012 need to be similar to the ones we had in the 1980s. What other reason could there be?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. there are people in the foreign policy establishment on the right who don’t recognize the differences between Russia and the old Soviet Union, and think that our policies in 2012 need to be similar to the ones we had in the 1980s.

    Romney does want to add an additional $2 trillion to the deficit to pay for more defense spending, so that sounds about right.

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  2. Phillip says:

    Republican diplomat Rich Williamson, a Romney adviser

    I hope Romney promised him the ambassadorship of Rhodesia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. Markey says:

    Wolverines!!

    :-))

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, how trustworthy are the words of a writer for Talking Points Memo? What are the odds that it’s a correct rendition of actual words spoken by that advisor, as opposed to a “fake but accurate” report, or even something the author made up out of thin air?

    In any event, assuming that report is not bogus and that that’s actually what the advisor said, it would beg the question of why that terminology was used.

    Could be that Team Romney has brought in a bunch of old Cold War foot soldiers who simply are passed their primes and who’ve said the phrase “Soviet Union” so many thousands of times in their lives it’s ingrained as habit. Could also be that Team Romney is using a dog whistle of sorts to gin up the addled folks on the right who need some red meat before they deign it worthwhile to put down the National Review long enough to “hold their noses” and vote.

    Could also be that Team Romney actually is being politically clever. At one level it’s hard to believe that Pennsylvania could be in play. Then again, Team Obama itself has been spending big TV money there, which obviously suggests not only that it could be in play but that Obama could be in some real trouble in that state. Money talks.

    Pennsylvania has sort of a unique slate of demographics. There are vast numbers of Eastern Europeans and their descendants. Those folks have no love to lose over any hint of an aggressive Russia. They would not be all too keen on Obama playing kissy face with Medvedev. They support missile defense for the Poles, etc. Normally they vote Democrat, but they’re not reflexively opposed to the idea of voting Republican. They sure as hell voted for Reagan. If Romney could swing enough of those folks to his column it’s theoretically possible he could win Pennsylvania, in which event it’s highly likely he’d be the next president. Perhaps that’s what this “Soviet Union” thing is all about.

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  5. Tony W says:

    @Timothy Watson: I assume the Tea Party would find the $2 Trillion in national debt quite a reasonable investment in such a circumstance

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. Boyd says:

    For folks of a certain age, it was common to struggle to refer to the Soviet Union as such, instead of calling it Russia. I find it believable that making the reverse conversion is just as difficult, ending up with the occasional bungle.

    I certainly don’t know that that’s the case here, but I recognize the slip because I’ve committed it myself a few times.

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  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Oops, I just noticed they had a link to a video clip. So indeed this guy did in fact say “Soviet Union,” and we don’t have to worry about it being a bogus report.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  8. OzarkHillBilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: As usual Tsar, you are alone in such worries.

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  9. @Tsar Nicholas:

    Perhaps the video is sufficient proof for you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. DRS says:

    I tell you, there are guys buried in the Kremlin who would have less nostalgia for the Soviet Union than a lot of neocons. It was the best fight of their lives, when they manned the ramparts (about 6,000 miles behind what would have been the front lines but whatever….) and threw nasty invective over the Iron Curtain. They’ve been looking for a substitute for 20 years but the alternative Evil Empires just don’t measure up. Kids today, they don’t know how good it used to be.

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  11. Moosebreath says:

    He’s just retroactively fighting the Cold War. Hopefully, it will turn out as well this time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Oops, I just noticed they had a link to a video clip. So indeed this guy did in fact say “Soviet Union,” and we don’t have to worry about it being a bogus report”

    Gosh, are you sure, Tsar? Maybe those meanie liberals in the wicked LSM doctored the video to make it look like he said Soviet Union Or more likely the Obama campaign paid off this guy to make Romney look bad.

    You’re usually such a font of fake “knowledge.” I hate to see you give up this easily, just because reality intervened. It’s never stopped you before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Scott O says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    something the author made up out of thin air?

    ” I believe the DSM defines that particular pathology as “projection.” A hallmark symptom of leftism you, of course.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. al-Ameda says:

    I believe that the purpose of these kind of remarks is to remind people that Democrats and liberals were perceived to be soft on communism, to suggest ot us that the threat is still with us, and that Obama is weak with respect to our relationship with the Soviet Union … make that Russia.

    It is a losing argument. Polling consistently suggest that Obama does well with respect to foreign policy and the use of American force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Oops, I just noticed they had a link to a video clip. So indeed this guy did in fact say “Soviet Union,” and we don’t have to worry about it being a bogus report.

    You sir, are a genius.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Thomas's Paine says:

    @mantis: @Tsar Nicholas:

    Oops, I just noticed they had a link to a video clip. So indeed this guy did in fact say “Soviet Union,” and we don’t have to worry about it being a bogus report.

    You sir, are a genius.

    I once had a RATM sticker on my 89′ civic that depicted a black and white American Flag with “Evil Empire” written under it. I cut the Evil Empire part off, and 50 year old hippies kept complimenting me on the David Bowie sticker….or was it Hellen Keller sticker….oh well I forget.

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  17. Sidney18511 says:

    That is because the prophecy of Mormon founder joseph smith, is that a morman will come into the whitehouse when the constitution is hanging by a thread and go to war with the soviet union, take over the globe, convert people to the only true religion, Mormonism , kill the rest and keep a few of us as slaves for the Mormons to do with what they like. So you see, Romney didn’t make a gaff. And he does have big plans for the presidency.

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  18. Ron McCune says:

    Romney is a narrow minded, backward thing, low intelligence war monger who will get America into unnecessary wars just as Bush did. Romney’s perspective of the world leaves a lot to be desired. Even the Republicans are skeptical of Romney in many ways. Surely Israel will be in for a conflict in one way or another if Romney becomes president as Romney let’s Israel do what it wants with the Palestinians and will end up moving the American embassy to Jerusalem which will inflame the Arab world, make Egypt end it’s peace treaty with Israel and end up bringing the Arab revolution to the West Bank as the Israeli Arab war go into full gear again. Read my web page at http://www.mybetteramericaplan.com to see the many ways that Romney is no good for America.

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  19. Boyd says:

    @Ron McCune: Or, we could blow you off as a self-important, self-promoting, pompous blowhard who doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, but just wants to generate hits for his web site.

    It’s a tossup, really.

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