Posts Tagged ‘foreign policy’
… “Romney was [...] was queried about why he gave a sunny assessment of the war in Iraq after a visit in 2006, even though he now often says the aftermath of the invasion was not managed well,” writes Marc Santora in a NYT The Caucus blog post titled McCain on Experience
[Credit goes to eyeon08.com in a post titled Romney: Check with Lawyers and Notes ]
[Romney:] You could look at what I said at that time. I was encouraged at that time that there was a creation of a coalition government and believed that was a positive step and I continue to believe that that was a positive step. Let me make it very clear. Not everything that happened over the period of time following Saddam Hussein’s collapse was bad.
The establishment of a constitution, the election of a coalition and the creation of a coalition government. Those were positive developments but nonehtheless I felt in some respects the management of the post-Saddam Hussein conflict there was not as well managed as we would have hoped it would have been, and I think that was in part because we frankly did not have sufficient preparation and planning for what occurred.
Q: If you felt at that time, why didn’t you say something then?
Mr. Romney: I don’t recall all the things that I said at that time, so I’d just have to go back and look at my notes at that time.
Q: Wasn’t it important to take a stand?
Mr. Romney: I said what I knew at that time … etc.
Another profile in courage.
Conclusion: It is impossible to hold this man—his imperious holiness, Willard Milton Romney—to anything he has ever said, to any commitment he has ever made, to any position he has ever held, to any policy he has ever pursued. Romney—apparently—is, or believes that he is, a creature of pure will and imagination, a demigod-like figure who stands apart from the causal nexus, a creature unlimited by even his personal history, a story he feels himself free to revise on the fly: He is what he says he is, and his words mean only what he says that they mean, and he takes grim offense should a miserable quaking mortal stand and suggest otherwise.
Moral: There are no messages in the abstract. There are only the men and the women who emit them, who carry them, who must defend them, creatures of flesh and blood, historical entities who pass into this world, live, love and labor for a short time, construe their experiences of this world as stories, and then pass away again. All politics is therefore identity politics, because a message has meaning only to the degree that we can identify with a flesh-and-blood messenger, and that messenger’s motives, intentions, perceptions, reflections, history of good or bad fortune, hard sufferings, and costly successes.
Our question: Who identifies with Romney?
Who is Romney’s natural constituency? Just how many super-rich, super-privileged shape-shifters exist among us?
Who gapes upon the expertly groomed face or form of Romney and believes that he sees in it himself, or believes that she sees in it herself, or even detects in it something remotely human and familiar?
“[The issue of foreign policy, which the NRO ignored in their rationale for endorsing Romney] shines an important light on National Review’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, which I discussed previously,” writes the Coptic Eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled McCain, Putin, and why experience matters
They had a conference call today to defend it. I didn’t hear a single supportive question, and no one spoke up in favor of their endorsement. Ari Richter of the Concord Monitor asked why so little discussion of foreign policy twice. The first time, Rich Lowry responded that all the candidates were pretty similar. They shared the same views, so the only differences are execution.
But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Experience and demonstrated judgment matter in this stuff. A lot. And it says a lot about National Review that they are playing that down. And John McCain’s statements today and almost 8 years ago demonstrate that … etc.
“‘Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make,’ said Adm. Robert J. Natter, former commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and an adviser to Giuliani. ‘Lawyers should not debate while our national security is on the line. In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation,’” as quoted by the estimable Jake Tapper in an ABCnews.go.com transmission titled
Giuliani Camp Slams Romney Over ‘Lawyers Test’; New York Mayor Takes Aim at Iowa, New Hampshire Front-Runner
Thompson, Paul Get In on the Act
Aides to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson also challenged the Romney response, telling the National Review’s Byron York after the debate, “When it comes to our nation’s security, it will be our generals that Fred Thompson sits down with first, not our attorneys” … more
Geraghty of NRO—probably still smarting over the hilariously mis-executed pasting he took from an angry and inarticulate “friend of Mitt”—reproduces the entire Giuliani press release in a Campaign Spot post titled Giuliani Sees an Echo of Kerry in Romney’s Lawyer Answer
It’s a Republican pile-on, with Romney at the bottom. Or is it?—well, it could be. Question: Will the Romneys take the bait and respond in kind? We predict they will. And if they do, they will pay for their mistake most dearly. For Romney to be seen attacking—yes, attacking—e.g. America’s mayor or 9.11 fame would be damaging in itself. But here is the real problem for the Romneys: Romney’s negatives are too high to go negative without self-destructing.
- Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)
- Romney’s negative attacks on others and his negatives in the polls–what is the link?
Here is what we concluded then, and what we still hold to now:
Allow us to articulate our argument in more familiar terms. It is common wisdom that a candidate whose negatives are high should not go negative. The negative campaigner may bring down her rival or rivals, but not without bringing herself down as well. Does any remember Dick Gephardt’s bitter attacks on Howard Dean and how they backfired on him? Neither do we. But the same was once said about Gephardt as is now said about Romney by Geraghty and others. Gephardt, however, was at least limited by the poverty of his campaign and Gephardt’s own loyalty to the interests of his party.
Romney has high negatives and has clearly gone negative. He has a far smaller-narrower base of support but far, far more resources than Gephardt ever had. And: Romney has far less of a commitment to the success of the GOP than Gephardt, a loyal soldier to the end, had to the DNC.
So: Imagine a Republican Dick Gephardt, on steroids, angry, alienated, estranged, adrift, and with no larger sense of party loyalty to restrain him, a man surrounded by hirelings, contractors, and highly-paid specialists, as opposed to the usual politicos, interest group players, and party insiders that surround other candidates, i.e. people with larger and longer term interests at stake. Now imagine that this hypothetical Republican Gephardt with nothing to lose but everything to gain has both the will and the resources necessary to slime and vilify whatever candidate or candidates he chooses.
This is Willard Milton Romney.
And this is where we are at this historical moment.
These are interesting times for the GOP … more
“Jim, Mitt Romney was asked if he thought the president would need congressional approval before striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Romney’s exact words were “let the lawyers sort that out.” Then he repeated that phrase when Matthews asked him AGAIN. Each time he said it very fast and jumped the subject to something more palatable to the audience. He’s a curdled skank,” writes the eloquent Karen DeCoster for LRC Blog’s BREAKING NEWS in a post titled “let the lawyers sort that out”
race42008.com provides a transcript and notes on context in a Justin Hart post titled Romney on Iran Hypothetical—we have no idea what that strange title is supposed to mean. This is Byron York’s transcript of Romney’s “gotta-check-with-the-lawyers answer on Iran,” available in an NRO The Corner post titled Romney and the Lawyers:
MATTHEWS: Governor Romney…if you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?
ROMNEY: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what’s in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress…
MATTHEWS: Did he need it?
ROMNEY: You know, we’re going to let the lawyers sort out what he needed to do and what he didn’t need to do. But, certainly, what you want to do is to have the agreement of all the people — leadership of our government as well as our friends around the world where those circumstances are available … more
Mark Hemingway glosses York’s transcript in an NRO The Corner post titled The Wrap-Up:
—Upon reflection, Byron’s transcript helped put Romney’s “First, kill all the terrorists and let the lawyers sort ‘em out” answer about where to derive National Security authority in a better light. But it’s still mindbogglingly awful … more [emphasis ours]
We concur. But what interests us is Romney’s personal evolution on the issue of Iran.
First, Romney issues this scarily confused policy formula:
” … there’s no question, says Romney, that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves. And I would never shrink from protecting the American nation, the American people, nor shrink from retaliation if somebody used something as awful as a nuclear device. We will be safe.”
We interrogate the Romney Doctrine in a post titled Romney dangerously confused on issues of deterrence and defense
Second, Romney experiences a rare moment of lucidity, retreats from the Romney Doctrine, and issues a redaction of the Bush doctrine. See: Romney retreats from the Romney doctrine; now recapitulates the Bush doctrine
Third, Romney issues his 5 bullet point powerpoint slide plan, his favoured means of expression. See: Mulhern: Romney’s “5 point plan” for Iran is “drivel.” He also continues to grandstand: the reviews are in: Romney’s “grandstanding” about Ahmadinejad ineffective, counterproductive
Now, Romney retreats yet further. He wants to call his lawyer. What leadership. What stern resolve. What presence of mind. What moral courage. Translation: What a mess!
Dear, dear precious little Willard Milton Romney. Please take a stand, will you?—i.e. please develop in advance a position that you can defend with consistency, or at least with a straight face.
Is Mitt Romney’s caution about describing the success of the surge stem from watching his father get crucified over his inital support, and subsequent backtracking, on Vietnam?—writes the sad and tired Romney sychophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO campaign spot post titled Does Romney’s verbal caution about the surge have deep roots?—note the subjunctive mood—Geraghty poses his claims as questions and hypotheticals as he purports to probe the soul of the hapless candidate’s second most primary relationship, that of Romney to his troubled father, George Romney.
Romney’s “if the surge is working” and “the surge is apparently working” brought him a great deal of grief from Senator McCain during the debate.
Why might a man like Mitt Romney – who once reviewed receipts to determine if businesses spent more or less on office supplies than they claimed before investing in that sector — prefer to see the Iraq data for himself? Why might he be a bit cautious about confident assertions of success in war? Why might he want a bit more than a general’s assurance that efforts are proceeding apace?—more.
Again: more questions and hypotheticals—when discussing Romney’s caution Geraghty himself grows cautious. Here is where we agree with Geraghty: Romney’s seemingly baffling qualifications and equivocations are—we would argue—an artifact of his professional temper and apolitical habits of mind. The man is an equity sector manager of funds. What you do when you manage funds is you hedge against uncertainty or against any sense of being overexposed on any one position or in any one direction.
So: Romney hedges, equivocates, and qualifies, but what Romney doesn’t seem to understand—what simply baffles the strangely singular little man, and what no handler nor hireling has been able to convince the hapless candidate—is that staking out a position with respect to an investment opportunity, and taking a position on an issue of public concern, are not the same—audiences in political fora and deliberative assemblies experience hedging and equivocating as lying and evasion, because issues and positions in political fora are people, people who expect you to actually believe in, and hold to, the positions that you affect to support.
Hence: Romney’s wretched reputation among many who you would otherwise expect to support him—e.g. us, because we would no more trust Romney than we would eat a cheese burger on Shabbat in our kippah, tzitzit, and wrapped in our tallit.
But Geraghty is not satisfied with this explanation for Romney’s bizarre public displays.
He offers us another one.
Perhaps—says Geraghty—we can find the answer in Time magazine, Sep. 15, 1967:
Last week, during a Labor Day interview on Detroit’s WKBD-TV, Commentator Lou Gordon wanted to know how [Michigan's Governor George] Romney squared his current conviction that the U.S. should never have got involved in Asia with the comment he made after a tour of the war zone in November 1965 that “involvement was morally right and necessary.”
Replied Romney: “When I came back from Viet Nam, I had just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Viet Nam.”
Gordon: By the generals?
Romney: Not only by the generals but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job, and, since returning from Viet Nam, I’ve gone into the history of Viet Nam, all the way back into World War II and before that. And, as a result, I have changed my mind…
Two days after making his comment, Romney appeared in Washington, where newsmen gave him a chance to get off the hook by asking whether he might have been misunderstood. “I was not misunderstood,” he snapped. “If you want to get into a discussion of who’s been brainwashing who, I suggest you take a look at what the Administration has been telling the American people.”
With that, he whipped out a newspaper clipping in which Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara was quoted as saying, just before the 1966 election, that draft calls might be cut the following year. “The information was not accurate,” said Romney. The Pentagon quickly replied that “it is the Governor who is giving inaccurate information,” noting that draft calls for the first ten months of 1967 are down 136,840 from the 1966 total. Said McNamara: “I don’t think Governor Romney can recognize the truth when he sees or hears it.”
Perhaps the unkindest cut of all, because of its unintentional but magnificent ambiguity, came from Leonard Hall, chairman of the Romney for President committee. “I think it finally comes down to an issue of credibility between Governor Romney and Secretary McNamara,” he said. “And given that choice, I have no doubt whom the American people will support.”
Back to Geraghty: We are all products of our upbringing. One can’t help but wonder whether a young Mitt Romney, watching his father become widely mocked over a poor word choice — but seeing many Americans come around to the perspective that, on balance, the United States probably should not have gotten ground troops involved in Vietnam — learned to verify what he is told by a Defense Secretary and generals … more
Various responsa: Poor word choice!?—please, Geraghty, read the article that you yourself quote more carefully and allow the elder Romney (may his name be for a blessing) the dignity of his own testimony!—he, himself, when confronted by sympathetic reporters who offered him the opportunity to retract or redact, refused the gesture and insisted, again, on precisely that term: brainwashing.
Also, Geraghty, you seem to miss what is most painfully obvious—and our method here is to look for the obvious—about this father and son drama getting played out at the expense of the GOP. Romney in his hedging and equivocating is not reacting against what happened to his father—per contra!—Romney has appropriated the hedging, equivocating, and vacillating of his father. This is a theme we developed weeks ago when we noted how Romney himself lashed out at his father even as he appropriated his father’s behaviors:
Here is where Geraghty—in our humble estimation—is correct: Romney’s campaign is not about Romney reaching out to the American people; Romney’s campaign is about Romney reaching out to Romney, and a part of that story is Romney reaching out to Romney through the person of his father (may his name be for a blessing). This is the story of a fabulously wealthy narcissist in search of himself. We—the rest of us—the GOP, the rival campaigns, the party primary system, the broken conservative movement, the American people—are less than stage props in a twisted narrative that will soon, if history is any guide, transition from low comedy to high tragedy.
“[Romney] said he hopes Iran can be persuaded to give up its nuclear ambitions. However, Romney said, if a nuclear weapon from Iran ever found its way “into the hands of terrorists and it’s used, we will not just respond to the terrorist, we will respond to the nation who gave the material to the terrorists,” reports the estimable Amy Lorentzen of the Associated Press in a story titled—without any hint of irony—Romney says Bin Laden is Deluded.
“Regardless of how [a nuclear weapon] might be used in the world, we will act,” he said, adding that military action is not just “on the table, it’s in our hand” … more
This is an unreconstructed restatement of the so-called Bush doctrine, articulated shortly after 9.11. By Bush doctrine we do not mean the doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense, but rather the less controversial doctrine of reserving the right to respond to, or to retaliate against, the states that sponsor or host terrorists. The theory is simply that non-state or civil society actors must still exist and operate within and through states, even fragile or broken states—etc., etc.
This is a full on retreat from the far more radical Romney Doctrine, summed up in the line: “But there’s no question that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves.” On analysis, this line—and Romney’s reasoning—dangerously conflate the notions of deterrence and revenge. Please see:
An enterprising Romney handler must have discovered the hapless candidate’s error and corrected him. Either that or someone in the Romney campaign reads this humble, anonymous, vanity web log, because as far as we know, we are—sadly and surprisingly—the only published source to raise the alarm about Romney’s misguided intentions with respect to our massive, and planet-killing nuclear arsenal. How sadly perverse that the only published source that takes Willard Milton Romney at his word, that actually listens to him, that actually studies and tries to understand what the candidate is saying, is, well, us—and, well, to be honest, we really don’t like the guy. How odd that we seem to be his only serious audience.
We predict that as it becomes clearer that the GOP is too sick, divided, and distracted to fend off the Romneys, this will change—the media will become all too interested in what Willard Milton Romney has to say.
NEWBERRY, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that if terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city while he was president he would retaliate “in a very dramatic and clear way,” reports the AP by way of CNN’s political ticker in a trivial story oddly titled Romney: ‘Dramatic’ retaliation to nuclear attack.
Posed that scenario while campaigning Friday in this early primary state, Romney said he didn’t want to say much more.
“The answer is you would retaliate and you’d retaliate in a very dramatic and clear way. I don’t want to be terribly more specific than that,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
First response: Well, duh. If attacked, we will respond hardly constitutes a policy departure; it hardly constitutes a policy at all.
So why is this news?
Perhaps this is why:
“But there’s no question that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves. And I would never shrink from protecting the American nation, the American people, nor shrink from retaliation if somebody used something as awful as a nuclear device. We will be safe.”
The US can project its various kinds of forces anywhere in the world. Romney, however, claims that “there is no question that people understand”—why the two removes?—why does Romney embed a relative clause in an already cleft sentence?—”that we have the thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons we have is that we intend to protect ourselves.” Call this this the Romney Doctrine. The Romney Doctrine seems on its face like a trivial claim. But it is actually either
(a) another painfully stupid misstatement of a simple principle of policy
(b) a radical inversion of the theory of deterrence
Regard: Classically, at least since John Foster Dulles, it is generally argued that the US maintains large stockpiles of nuclear weapons not to dissuade state or non-state actors from mounting limited nuclear strikes or terrorist acts etc., but to deter a major nuclear strike by a major nuclear actor.
In other words, the weapons exist to deter, not to avenge.
On the other hand: Limited strikes, strikes by a single nuclear weapon, terrorist attacks—these almost by definition would be the acts of weaker-state or non-state actors. Conditions on the ground would dictate the degree or the proportion of response. For example, what about the case of a weak state that had no effective control over territories controlled by tribes or militias? What about the case of a non-state actor, a group, a network, or a single terror cell? Or what about so-called dirty bombs or the sabotage of nuclear facilities?—would these also necessarily warrant a nuclear response? The simple reality is this: no, Romney, we do not maintain “thousands upon thousands” of nuclear weapons as a means to retaliate against rogues and terrorists. Nor have we ever. This, Romney, would be insanity.
Deterrence speaks to policy, precedence, and procedure; the core assumptions of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)—as irrational as they seemingly were—were at least premised upon a peer relationship and some degree of cooperation among the competitors. The antithesis of policy, precedence, and procedure, is revenge (or to use Romney’s term, retaliation), what Romney specifies as the answer to rogue acts of nuclear aggression, and what Romney claims is the very reason for our “thousands upon thousands” of nuclear weapons. Revenge–or retaliation–suggests a reactive system of blind reciprocity that admits of no conceptual limit, only an empirical one: the physical destruction of those caught in the cycle of revenge. For Romney, this is what “there is no question that people understand.”
Romney—always a little befuddled, but in this case dangerously confused—conflates deterrence with its antithesis, revenge.
The CNN story continues: The key is preventing nuclear proliferation, Romney said. He cited Iran, which has been accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge its leaders have denied while claiming it’s interested only in a nuclear energy program.
Against rogue acts of nuclear aggression, Romney promises retaliation, the antithesis of process or a sense of justice based on procedure. Yet Romney now flatly contradicts himself by invoking the non-proliferation process, a process that depends for its substance on the instruments of diplomacy, international legal precedent within the context of a treaty system, the presumptions of sovereignty, and the possibility of compromise, precisely because Iran is a weaker state with everything to gain from the development and use of nuclear weapons.
“It’s time for us to dramatically tighten the sanctions on Iran and to get our friends around the world to do the same,” Romney said. People in Iran need to know that “going down the nuclear path is a source of peril, not a source of pride,” he said … more
And now Romney contradicts himself yet again.
Remember, the Romney Doctrine hinges upon this forumula: “But there’s no question that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves.” So why does this reasoning not also apply to the Iranian people and the pride that they should justly feel in their own defense, and in continuing to develop their own defenses? The answer is that it does apply, because American exceptionalism is not a persuasive argument unless you happen to be an American. And this is precisely why Iran thus far resists the arguments of the US and the international community.
Conclusion: Romney is dangerously confused.
Oh, but by all means, please make this man our president.
“Cofer Black, vice chairman of army-for-hire contractor, Blackwater USA, is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security advisor. It raises the remote possibility that a mercenary, a believer in outsourced war, could wind up as a cabinet member in charge of national security affairs,” writes Dick Destiny in a web log post titled AMBASSADOR MERC: Mitt Romney’s security advisor, Blackwater CEO, maker of unfulfilled boasts … more
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Byran of Hot Air writes:
Here’s what the former Massachusetts governor said during a campaign stop in Iowa on August 1.
Romney: …”Did you notice in Lebanon, what Hezbollah did? Lebanon became a democracy some time ago and while their government was getting underway, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so. That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world. And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy…”
Crooks & Liars clumsily spun it as an endorsement of universal health care (never mind Hezbollah’s tendency to kill people who disagree with them, a tactic that Michael Moore probably doesn’t even agree with), but it’s a more serious error than merely touting policy that his base wouldn’t approve. Romney wants to be president, but doesn’t seem to understand what the government he would lead actually does … more
Alert Romney-flak Kevin Madden! Spin, man! SPIN!
“Mitt Romney’s campaign said Hezbollah was not a proper model for his vision of U.S. diplomacy, addressing a controversy arising from his earlier remarks,” reports the Global News Service of the Jewish People.
The statement from the campaign for the former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, came in the wake of a weekend town hall meeting in Iowa in which he cited Hezbollah’s social network as a model for reaching hearts and minds.”Governor Romney believes that bloodthirsty terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas have smothered the progress of the people and nations where they have built their networks, Lebanon serving as an example,” spokesman Kevin Madden said. “These terror organizations cannot and should not be allowed to gain an advantage with the citizenry in Muslim nations just because they mask their terror agenda with an offering of some vital services.”
Romney had made the comparison in explaining why he would expand on President Bush’s AIDS program in Africa, widely regarded as earning goodwill.”
Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so,” Romney said. “That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council slammed Romney for those remarks. “Any candidate for President should know that Hezbollah’s social programs are inseparably tied to terrorism,” it said … more
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