Even After Big Speech, Romney’s Foreign Policy Remains Vague

Mitt Romney's speech at VMI today was billed as a major foreign policy address, but it was incredibly light on substance.

For weeks now, we’ve been hearing rumors that Mitt Romney would be giving a major speech on foreign policy and national security. At the time it was apparently seen by many of his advisers as a way to reboot a campaign that was in danger of slipping too far behind the President to have a realistic chance of catching up. While that’s apparently no longer the case, at least for the moment, conservatives also believe that foreign policy is an area where the President remains vulnerable, especially in the wake of the attack in Benghazi and the riots in several other Muslim nations. The problem for Mitt Romney, though, is that, even after Benghazi, the President continues to get high marks in the poll on foreign policy issues, and most of the talking points that Romney has used in this area are things that generally only appeal to his conservative base. Indeed, James Joyner noted just a few weeks ago that Romney’s foreign policy positions suffer from the same problem as his domestic policy positions:

[I]t’s not at all clear what Romney proposes to do differently than his opponent.  He wants to decrease Europe’s energy reliance on Russia by supporting Nabucco and other pipeline projects. So do I. But so does Obama. Beyond that, he talks in vague platitudes about building stronger relations with Central Asian countries and supporting civil society in Russia. But those are longstanding, bipartisan goals of U.S. foreign policy.

The Romney campaign’s  foreign policy approach ultimately suffers the same basic flaw as its domestic policy approach: in trying to be all things to all people, it ultimately satisfies no one. Those of us in the increasingly marginalized Realist foreign policy camp are left clinging to the hope that the appointment of seasoned hands like Bob Zoellich to the team signals that Romney will be the serious pragmatist that he was as governor of Massachusetts. But the empty saber rattling and cozing up to Netanyahu and John Bolton are attempts to satisfy the neoconservative wing that Mitt’s one of them.

The net result is that no one really knows what a Romney foreign policy would look like. Increasingly, I’m not sure that even Romney knows.

That’s one reason, no doubt, that the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka took to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times yesterday to give the Republican nominee some advice:

Criticisms of Mr. Obama’s national security policies have degenerated into a set of clichés about apologies, Israel, Iran and military spending. To be sure, there is more than a germ of truth in many of these accusations. But these are complaints, not alternatives. Worse yet, they betray the same robotic antipathy that animated Bush-haters. “I will not apologize for America” is no more a clarion call than “let’s nation-build at home.”

Mr. Romney must put flesh on the bones of his calls for a renewed American greatness. With a vision for American power, strategically and judiciously applied, we can continue to do great things with fewer resources. The nation’s greatest strength is not its military power or fantastic productivity. It’s the American commitment to our founding principles of political and economic freedom. If Mr. Romney can outline to voters how he will use American power to advance those principles, he will go a long way in persuading them he deserves the job of commander in chief.

Unfortunately for Ms. Plekta, and I suppose for the candidate himself, when Mitt Romney took the stage at Virginia Military Institute today, he ended up just giving us the same old platitudes:

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney intensified his efforts Monday to draw a sharp contrast with President Obama on national security in the presidential campaign’s closing stages, portraying Mr. Obama as having mishandled the tumult in the Arab world and having left the nation exposed to a terrorist attack in Libya.

In a speech he gave at the Virginia Military Institute, Mr. Romney declared that “hope is not a strategy” for dealing with the rise of Islamist governments in the Middle East or an Iran racing toward the capability to build a nuclear weapon, according to excerpts released by his campaign.

The essence of Mr. Romney’s argument is that he would take the United States back to an earlier era, one that would result, as his young foreign policy director, Alex Wong, told reporters on Sunday, in “the restoration of a strategy that served us well for 70 years.”

But beyond his critique of Mr. Obama as failing to project American strength abroad, Mr. Romney has yet to fill in many of the details of how he would conduct policy toward the rest of the world, or to resolve deep ideological rifts within the Republican Party and his own foreign policy team. It is a disparate and politely fractious team of advisers that includes warring tribes of neoconservatives, traditional strong-defense conservatives and a band of self-described “realists” who believe there are limits to the degree the United States can impose its will.

Each group is vying to shape Mr. Romney’s views, usually through policy papers that many of the advisers wonder if he is reading. Indeed, in a campaign that has been so intensely focused on economic issues, some of these advisers, in interviews over the past two weeks in which most insisted on anonymity, say they have engaged with him so little on issues of national security that they are uncertain what camp he would fall into, and are uncertain themselves about how he would govern.

“Would he take the lead in bombing Iran if the mullahs were getting too close to a bomb, or just back up the Israelis?” one of his senior advisers asked last week. “Would he push for peace with the Palestinians, or just live with the status quo? He’s left himself a lot of wiggle room.”

In his remarks, Mr. Romney addressed the Palestinian issue, saying, “I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.” And he faulted Mr. Obama for failing to deliver on that front.

But while the theme Mr. Romney hit the hardest in his speech at V.M.I. — that the Obama era has been one marked by “weakness” and the abandonment of allies — has political appeal, the specific descriptions of what Mr. Romney would do, on issues like drawing red lines for Iran’s nuclear program and threatening to cut off military aid to difficult allies like Pakistan or Egypt if they veer away from American interests, sound at times quite close to Mr. Obama’s approach.

And the speech appeared to glide past positions Mr. Romney himself took more than a year ago, when he voiced opposition to expanding the intervention in Libya to hunt down Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi with what he termed insufficient resources. He called it “mission creep and mission muddle,” though within months Mr. Qaddafi was gone. And last spring, Mr. Romney was caught on tape telling donors he believed there was “just no way” a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could work.

Mr. Romney’s Monday speech called vaguely for support of Libya’s “efforts to forge a lasting government” and to pursue the “terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed Americans.” And he said he would “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security” with Israel. But he did not say what resources he would devote to those tasks.

Now, of course, one shouldn’t expect a Presidential candidate to give precise details about how he would deal with the myriad number of global issues that will be face by whomever becomes President on January 20, 2013. At the same time, though, a candidate for President, especially one who’s challenging an incumbent President, has some responsibility to explain to voters where they differ from their opponent, and where they might agree.

For example, Governor Romney has consistently criticized the President for supposed inaction with respect to the civil war in Syria, an ironic position when one considers that, in 2011, he was criticizing the President for even considering intervening in the civil war in Libya (although to be fair, Romney seems to have had at least three distinct positions on Libya over the course of a year.) What Romney hasn’t said, though, is what he’d do differently in Syria from the President. Our ability to act within a coalition there is hampered by the fact that nobody else seems very eager to intervene in what is clearly a more complicated situation than Libya ever was, for example, and we are even more unsure of the true nature of the Syrian rebels than we were of their counterparts in Libya. In today’s speech, though, Governor Romney didn’t say specifically where he stood on arming the Syrian rebels, or indeed intervening. Instead, he said this:

In Syria I’ll work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks helicopters and fighter jets. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously through our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran, rather than sitting on the sidelines. It’s essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.

How exactly is that different from the Obama Administration’s current policy? We’ve been working with the Saudis and other Gulf States to arm Syrian rebels, and we’ve known since at least June that there are CIA agents on the ground at the Turkish-Syrian border assisting in army in the rebels and “helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government.” So, essentially Governor Romney is endorsing the policy that the Obama Administration has laid out while at the same time falsely accusing the President of doing nothing in Syria.

On Iran and its nuclear weapons program, Romney said this:

I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will — and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf. And I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.

Again, isn’t this what the President has been doing for the last three years? We’ve imposed several new rounds of sanctions on the Iranian regime, including currency restrictions which have apparently led to severe economic conditions in the country after the Iranian Rial lost more than 40% of its value in a very short period of time. We’ve made clear to the Iranians that developing a nuclear weapon would be unacceptable and, in apparent coordination with the Israelis, we unleashed the Stuxnet virus, which had a significant impact on the Iranian centerfuge program. There have also been reports of other covert activities inside Iran likely conducted by us, the Israelis, or other Western power either acting in conjunction or at least with some knowledge of what we’re doing. Nothing Romney said in his speech indicates that he’d do anything differently.

Wired’s Spencer Ackerman notes that, based on this speech, it’s fairly clear that Romney’s foreign policy would effectively be the continuation of what the Obama Administration has been doing for the past three years:

The differences Romney outlines from Obama tend to shrink under scrutiny. To confront Iran, Romney will pledge to “restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf.” But Obama has kept two carrier strike groups off Iran’s shores for at least a year, an increase from the Bush administration, along with an additional naval surge of minesweepers, gunboats and commandos. On Syria, Romney says he’ll “entify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need.” But the CIA is on the Turkey-Syrian border trying to sort out which Syrian rebels are worth funneling foreign weapons to — a difficult proposition at best — and, as the New York Times‘ David Sanger points out, Romney stops short of promising American weapons to the rebels. Romney doesn’t like Obama’s 2014 timetable for ending U.S. combat in Afghanistan (a “politically timed retreat,” Romney calls it), but, again, he’ll say he’ll stick to it while “evaluat[ing] conditions on the ground,” something less than a pledge to stay longer. But sinceObama isn’t leaving Afghanistan after 2014, either, finding distinctions on Afghanistan is like counting angels on the head of a pin.

On other issues that Romney did not address in his speech, I doubt we’ll see any change in our nation’s disastrous and counter-productive drone strategy were Mitt Romney to become President. Indeed, that’s probably one area where Romney would probably increase activity from the level that its been at under Obama and expand it into other parts of the world like Northern Africa. Beyond that, most of the differences between Romney and Obama on foreign policy are purely rhetorical, and that rhetoric is mostly Romney’s and mostly meant for domestic consumption.  When it comes to implementation and actual policy, the differences between what Romney says he wants the United States to do in the world and what the President is actually doing are infinitesimal.

Indeed, in order to come up with an effective criticism of the President in this area, Romney and his surrogates are required to come up with a version of the President’s foreign policy that simply doesn’t comport with reality. He’s weakened America, they claim, even as our military stands so far ahead of our nearest rivals that any comparisons are rather absurd. To pick just one example, the United States has eleven active aircraft carriers. The Chinese just finished retrofitting one they had acquired from the Russians years ago, but they still can’t land planes on it and they Chinese Navy doesn’t have the support capacity that would allow the carrier to sail far beyond Chinese waters in the manner that America’s carriers have been doing for some 60 years now. Republicans claim that the President has gone around the world “apologizing for America,” despite the fact that this is a completely untrue statement. And, they portray the President as weak in the War on Terror while ignoring the fact that it was under his Administration that Osama bin Laden was brought to the justice he deserved. It’s only by creating this absurd caricature that they are able to look even half way credible in criticizing the President in this area, while at the same time advocating policies that, in the end, aren’t very different from what the President has actually done.

Romney is attacking on foreign policy now for a simple reason. After the Benghazi attacks, the campaign believes that the President is vulnerable on this issue. I agree that the Administration’s response to the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three others on the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks has been bungled and ham-handed. Additionally, there are still serious questions that need to be answered about the security situation on the ground in Libya before the attacks and whether or not the State Department ignored pleas from people on the ground to send additional protection to the outposts in both Benghazi and Tripoli. However, I’m not seeing any evidence that any of this is hurting the President in the polls. Mostly, it’s just getting conservatives really mad, but they were already mad at the President anyway.

All of this will come to a head at the foreign policy debate on October 22nd, of course. In some sense, then, I wonder why the Romney campaign chose to play their cards here so early since this will given the Obama campaign two weeks to come up with responses to everything that was raised in the speech. Perhaps the most important criticism, though, is that, just like Mitt Romney won’t give us any details about his tax plan, he’s not giving us any details on his foreign policy views. Of course, that assumes he knows what they actually are.

Here’s video of the speech:

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Photo via Richmond Times-Dispatch

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, National Security, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jen says:

    “I wonder why the Romney campaign chose to play their cards here so early since this will given the Obama campaign two weeks to come up with responses to everything that was raised in the speech.”

    It could change three times before then. No danger there.

    On a more serious note, the lack of detail across every policy area seems to be a hallmark of this campaign. Part of this is the overly simple “not Obama” strategy, but it seems to have the added benefit that if Romney gets elected, there doesn’t seem to be a single “campaign promise” that he’d be able to break, since he doesn’t articulate anything in detail. He’s incredibly risk-adverse, and I do wonder how that would actually play out from a policy perspective, particularly when it comes to tough foreign policy questions.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    As I’ve said before, I can’t support Romney because of his foreign policy positions. General truculence may be what the Republican base wants and requires but it won’t get my vote.

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    It’s basically “all the stuff Obama is doing, but with more arrogance and belligerence.”

  4. Buzz Buzz says:

    Wired’s Spencer Ackerman notes …

    As a follow up to the piece based on Journ-O-Lister Ben Smith, we now get another article based (in part, at least) on another dishonest Journ-O-List shill, Spencer “Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares – and call them racists” Ackerman?

    Inside The Hive ™

  5. Fiona says:

    Shorter version of the Romney speech: Blah, blah, blah, platitude. Blah, blah, blah, lie about Obama. Blah, blah, blah, platitude. Blah, blah, blah, empty soaring rhetoric. American exceptionalism–hoorah!! New American Century!! Hallelujah!

    I watched it and felt much as I did about the foreign policy elements of his RNC speech–lots of jingoism with little substance. This guy is going to run us into the ground with his military spending.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    It’s the Obama policy but louder, because you know, he’s talking to foreigners.

    Honestly why bother with Romney positions on anything? His position is, “I want to be president.” His policies shift in whichever direction will let him achieve that goal. Go to RobotRomney insert your own preferences, and get whatever Romney you want.

  7. Jr says:

    Great post, Doug.

    Outside of increase defense spending and more bluster, how is his polices that much different from Obama.

    Barry is already too hawkish for my liking, but Mitt pushing the same neacon nonsense from the Bush years.

  8. cd6 says:

    Our next president, Mittens Romney is right. “Hope is not a strategy” – and that’s all NObama has to offer.

    Romney’s much better strategy of “I LOVE AMERICA THE MOST” will surely make us stronger abroad.

    Terrorists see us as weak right now because oBOWma hates America and they think its ok to hate america too. Once they see how SWELL romeny thinks America is, they too will ALSO think its swell and then there will be no more attacks against the defenseless embassies Hillary left out there.

    Once Romney drops a few more anecdotes about going to the malt shop with your kid brother and maybe takin the jalopy for a spin to pick up the girls and catch the drive in picture, that’ll put a stop to the war on terror lickity split. TAKE THAT, IRAN

  9. Outside perspective says:

    Wow, you’ve got dead diplomats, a massive cover up, you’re current administration hasn’t even answered any questions about it’s blatent lies and incompetance, and you guys are bitching about Romneys foreign policy speech? It was perfect! Why aren’t you screaming for answers and demanding an American response, do you even care about you’re dead diplomats? The world is on a knifes edge of war, your administration is as corrupt as it gets, you’re president is undermining your declaration of independance and his weakness is threatening the free world..globally people think Americans are now stupid beyond comprehension because of what you’re letting Obama do. Good god, with opinions like yours no wonder America is rated world wide as a lost cause. I used to have an opinion that Americans were intelligent, strong, integral and the free world leaders. Now i think you’re ridiculously stupid, incompetant and corrupted. You’re a danger to the rest of us. You’re obviously under some delusion that you’re respected and you’re safe. If Obama gets a 2nd term you’re in for a huge reality check.

  10. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    In some sense, then, I wonder why the Romney campaign chose to play their cards here so early since this will given the Obama campaign two weeks to come up with responses to everything that was raised in the speech.

    It’s obvious, at the debate, Romney will change every one of the views expressed in today’s speech, which then will baffle Obama and make him unable to respond.
    Instant Romney win!

  11. mannning says:

    Go back and read what Mr. Obama said about foreign policy in his campaign. Classic vagueness here and there, too. It didn’t stop left and center leaning people from voting him into office.

    The same will be true here for the right and center leaning people, especially since given a similar and perhaps more energized foreign policy position, with far more stability between us and our traditional allies, and a shoring up of our defense posture, the real issue is going to be the need for many millions of new jobs, the economy to support them, and our soaring debt of $16 trillion. Obama, his cabinet and his czars are found by all measures to be woefully deficient over the past four years. We do not need further excuses from four years ago, such as blaming it all on George W. Bush: the fact is, Obama couldn’t handle the job.

  12. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I tweeted RoboRomney this morning. Awesome!!!

    If you haven’t seen it, you should go there now and see how truly remarkable Romney is in that he’s taken a liberal, moderate, AND conservative stance on the following policies:

    Foreign policy
    Immigration
    Gun control
    Civil rights
    Healthcare
    Abortion
    Environment
    Economy
    Tax reform
    Education

    Amazing. I wonder if there is any politician in history to whom you could do this.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Outside perspective:

    I don’t usually do this. I hate people who do this. But for God’s sake it’s your when you say “your diplomats.” It’s you’re if you mean that I am a diplomat. I’m letting the 20 or so other misspellings and missing possessives and so on go. But maybe we’re “rated a lost cause” because our people can’t write.

    But setting that aside, what happened in Benghazi is by any rational standard a blip. Sorry, it is. It would be a blip if it were Mr. Romney or Mr. Bush. It is a terrible thing for the families, of course, but in the course of US foreign policy? It’s a nothing. It’s certainly not 241 dead Marines followed by a bug-out and topped off with sending embargoed weapons to the perpetrators.

    Libya is a sideshow. If you want to obsess over something in the Middle East, try Egypt. Egypt is a big deal, Syria is a big deal, Libya is not. I realize you got it in your teeth like a terrier with a bone, but Libya has never been, and probably never will be, a big deal.

  14. mantis says:

    So, essentially Governor Romney is endorsing the policy that the Obama Administration has laid out while at the same time falsely accusing the President of doing nothing in Syria.

    Romney on all foreign policy: false accusations and no details.

    Actually, that sums Romney up on all positions: false accusations and no details. Rinse, repeat.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @mannning:

    You’re right about vagueness. Wrong about everything else.

    If we are having such difficulty with “our traditional allies,” why do you suppose European public opinion vastly prefers Obama? And why do you suppose the Brits feel the same way?

    I assume what you really mean is not “our traditional allies,” but Israel. And that by, “Israel,” you mean Likud. Because if you mean Europe and Japan, I’d love to see your evidence that they have an issue with Obama.

  16. Franklin says:

    @Outside perspective: Ahh, nice, a neocon from another country who thinks his “outside perspective” is more useful than a neocon from this country. Sorry, you guys failed, we don’t need your opinions any more.

    But, what “cover up” are you talking about? The one where Obama said it was a terrorist attack the day after it happened? So they “covered it up” for a whole day, which, coincidentally, corresponds to how long it took for intelligence to realize what had happened?

    There is indeed some fault there, however: Obama’s State Department should have found a way to provide the consulate more protection which they had been asking for. That’s the real problem, and it’s actually all over the news if you take a moment to look.

  17. mantis says:

    @mannning:

    Go back and read what Mr. Obama said about foreign policy in his campaign. Classic vagueness here and there, too.

    Like when he said he would follow bin Laden into Pakistan even if the Pakistanis would not help? Yeah, so vague….

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I missed the speech. Alas, the fuel distribution industry does not shut down on Columbus Day. Sigh.

    In any event, political stump speeches are speeches, not depositions. Plus I’m not exactly sure what would satisfy the chattering classes. In that respect you have to keep in mind that Romney, you know, is a Republican. If he gave every last detail of his prospective foreign policy the chattering classes instantly would begin nitpicking them, belitting them, parsing them, hell, jumping through their own arseholes to criticize and browbeat Romney into submission. Heads you lose, tails they win, when you’re a Republican.

    Ultimately you don’t need a ouija board to figure out the major differences between Romney and Obama on foreign affairs.

    – Romney will engage in a military strike against Iran as soon as the latter’s nuclear weapons program crosses the point of no return.

    – Romney will repair ties with Israel.

    – Romney won’t play kissy face with Medvedev and Putin on missile defense in Eastern Europe. Romney will move to fund and to effectuate those anti-missile systems, especially in Poland.

    – Romney will pursue the sort of expansive free trade relationships that were so common during the W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

    – Romney will attempt to bully pulpit the Congress into zero base line budgeting for foreign aid to questionable regimes, e.g., Libya and Egypt.

    Isn’t that enough detail for a presidential election? Do we actually need to colonoscopize everything that Romney says?

  19. sam says:

    In his remarks, Mr. Romney addressed the Palestinian issue, saying, “I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

    Of course, he’s said it’s naive to think such a solution is possible. But that was before…

  20. sam says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Do we actually need to colonoscopize everything that Romney says?

    If that’s where the man’s head is, well, yes.

  21. PJ says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I missed the speech.

    Just an observation.
    There’s a lot of things you seem to have missed and there’s a lot of people you never had heard of. According to you that is.

  22. David M says:

    The biggest red flag for me in the speech was Romney’s complaint we should have kept the troops in Iraq longer:

    In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran. And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.

    That along with wanting to increase military spending are just absolutely the wrong answers.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @David M:

    On Iraq he’s not just wrong, he’s utterly dishonest.

    We do not base our soldiers in third world countries unless they are granted immunity from local prosecution. The Iraqis refused to grant it. That’s the democratically-elected Iraqi government. So, not sure how Romney would change that.

    In any event, keeping our troops there would not consolidate a damned thing, it would just be a boon to the IED makers.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    The world is on a knifes edge of war…

    Oh really? WW III is imminent? Who knew…meanwhile…

    – Romney will engage in a military strike against Iran as soon as the latter’s nuclear weapons program crosses the point of no return.

    Translation: Romney will pursue a disastrous war with Iran that will cause many casualties and make the situation in the Middle East even worse…

    – Romney will repair ties with Israel.

    Translation-Romney will kiss Bibi Netanyahu’s ass…

    – Romney won’t play kissy face with Medvedev and Putin on missile defense in Eastern Europe. Romney will move to fund and to effectuate those anti-missile systems, especially in Poland.

    Translation-Romney will needlessly agitate the Russians by wasting more dollars in military spending on a weapons system that most of the people in Poland don’t want and that may not even work properly…

    – Romney will pursue the sort of expansive free trade relationships that were so common during the W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

    Translation-Romney will ship jobs overseas, just like he did at Bain Capital…

    – Romney will attempt to bully pulpit the Congress into zero base line budgeting for foreign aid to questionable regimes, e.g., Libya and Egypt.

    Translation-Romney will engage Congress on small sideshow issues while not engaging Congress on the really important issues…

    Hell, I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel safer already…

  25. Woody says:

    Mr Romney’s foreign policy speech, like all of his campaign-era speeches, will be watched by a tiny number of the electorate, and probably not by any truly undecided voters.

    However, the not-nuts sound bites will be featured for about thirty seconds, max, on the network news shows. No network reporter will point out any inconsistency with Romney’s messages, nor point out any similarity with the positions Obama has already taken.

    There will be slightly more coverage on CNN and MSNBC. As few watch CNN, and few Romney voters watch nighttime MSNBC, Mitt’s whack-a-mole positions will be pointed out, but little harm will be done.

    Fox will play snippets, then spend considerable time agreeing with one another that Obama has failed America and that Romney is surrounded by trustworthy hard-Right stalwarts like Senor and Bolton (I can’t imagine anyone believing that Zoellnick is anything but a decoy duck).

    This scenario has taken place on every other policy matter during this campaign, which is why one month before the election, Mitt Romney, who has lied all the way through, still has a chance to win.

  26. I don’t know how Romney expects me to take the foreign policy views of someone who only has eight flags behind them seriously.

  27. @Tsar Nicholas:

    – Romney will attempt to bully pulpit the Congress into zero base line budgeting for foreign aid to questionable regimes, e.g., Libya and Egypt.

    The annual payments to Egypt are required by the Camp David Accords. Are you suggesting that Romney’s policy is that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt should be terminated?

  28. Herb says:

    @mannning:

    “Obama, his cabinet and his czars are found by all measures to be woefully deficient over the past four years.”

    You say that about the guy who bagged Bin Laden? Who helped bring down Gaddafi without dropping a single boot on the ground?

    I don’t know which measures you’re using, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “all.”

  29. Ron Beasley says:

    What Romney said was he was going to do what Obama has been doing but he’s going to do more chest pounding.

  30. stonetools says:

    @mannning:

    Go back and read what Mr. Obama said about foreign policy in his campaign. Classic vagueness here and there, too

    Funny, I remember Obama being pretty definite about escalating the war in Afghanistan, ending the war in Iraq, getting bin Laden even if it meant going into Pakistan, and negotiating with Iran without pre-conditions. Obama was largely specific about his foreign policy and kept or tried to keep most of his promises.

    Politifact

  31. stonetools says:

    I haven’t listened to the speech. Is Romney still planning to defend Czechoslovakia from the Soviet empire? Or have they installed the 2012 update to his foreign policy software program?

  32. Clanton says:

    Best foreign policy presidents: (Obama and Romney need to learn from these)
    Nixon: way ahead of anyone else
    Johnson: Vietnam was only blunder
    Reagan: kept out of other countries’ business
    Clinton: didn’t really seem to have a foreign policy – maybe that was best

  33. jan says:

    CBS’s Lara Logan: Obama is lying to America

    I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . .” Logan declared in her native South African accent.

    The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban.

    “There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”

    Her speech seemed to be serving as a warning of the problems that are still very much alive and not being addressed in the ME, despite the back-slapping that has gone on about OBL being dead. It was especially provocative and timely considering the violent events in Benghazi, and how the Obama Administration has been slow to convey the truth to the people.

  34. Clanton says:

    @stonetools: Czech: I remember when the Russians invaded back in 1968. We should have gone in there kicked the Russians out. Out of there, East Germany, Berlin, and Hungary. The Germans would have helped us. That was a big mistake, letting them stay in there after WWII.

  35. ketchup or salsa says:

    @Clanton: you fail to recall US abetted death squads in Central America during Reagan’s tenure. Why?

  36. Fiona says:

    Oh Jan–where in the piece, which you don’t bother to link, does it say Obama lied? Logan’s accusations are couched in the passive voice, a major lie is being propagated by “Taliban apologists.” She declines to state who these people are.

    A little context is in order. Logan is the reported who was abducted and brutalized in Egypt while covering the anti-Mubarak protests. As such, her opinions, which is what she offered in this speech, may well be colored by her experiences:

    But by the end of her speech, it was obvious that her views are passionate and in some parts unequivocal, in ways that bothered at least some current and former journalists. Said one former reporter and editor in the crowd: “Clearly one tough reporter, but seemingly scarred by all of this. It was totally depressing. Worrying, too. And a call for an amped war on terror.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/09/lara-logan-s-war-cry.html

  37. Andre Kenji says:

    @mannning:

    Go back and read what Mr. Obama said about foreign policy in his campaign. Classic vagueness here and there, too. It didn’t stop left and center leaning people from voting him into office.

    Well, at least Obama was opposed for the Iraq War. The problem of Romney is precisely that: he reminds people of Bush.

  38. Rob in CT says:

    It’s basically “all the stuff Obama is doing, but with more arrogance and belligerence.”

    Yup.

    And the Democratic-lead Foreign Policy is, in reality (as opposed to rhetorical fancy), “basically all the stuff Republicans do, but with less arrogance and belligerence.”

    Which makes it better. But still frustrating.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    led not lead. Heh.

  40. Rob in CT says:

    Czech: I remember when the Russians invaded back in 1968. We should have gone in there kicked the Russians out. Out of there, East Germany, Berlin, and Hungary. The Germans would have helped us. That was a big mistake, letting them stay in there after WWII.

    You wanted World War III? What the hell is wrong with you?