Or how should we describe Mitt Romney foreign-policy wise?
Is he a neo-con?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think Peter’s “Mender not an Ender” is the perfect description of the candidate domestically, “Blast from the Past, Mormon Version” is the appropriate cultural marker, but I really don’t know how to tag this guy on foreign policy.
Indeed, given his speech today at the Virginia Military Institute, the temptation is to consider him the “Kenny Rogers of Foreign Policy.” He’s holdin’ his cards close to his chest. Take his statement on Afghanistan today:
And in Afghanistan, I will pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.
Clear now? But all candidates for the presidency do this kind of thing, and responsibility always requires it of them to some degree.
Romney said unkind things about Chavez, Putin, and China in the speech, but here are a couple of the really bright lines:
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. …
In Egypt, I will use our influence—including clear conditions on our aid—to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel.
Good, and good. He also says he would find the right sorts of rebels in Syria and send them arms. Who knows?
The speech is in one place strikingly polite in how it describes Obama’s failures in foreign policy, but in a couple of other places is ham-handedly harsh on them, almost seeming to blame our President for all the troubles in the world.
As for general criticisms of Obama that also hint as his own principles, we get:
But in all of these places, just as in the Middle East, the question is asked: “Where does America stand?”
He says he would not have left the Iranian democracy “protestors” in 2009 hangin’ the way Obama did. And overall:
…I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values—
Me, I’m not in principle opposed to the U.S. tagging in third or fourth place behind our European allies, or (even less likely) our East-Asian/Pacific allies on certain policies and initiatives. But alas, France’s and the UK’s lead on Libya was fairly disappointing with how it worked in practice.
Here’s the text. My basic complaint: too brief, too breezily critical of Obama, and way too Middle-East focused. Has he heard of this place called India, for example? Or this thing called the EU? But delivered quite well for the sort of speech it is.
But how should we describe him?
P.S., yes the speech did occur in Lexington, VA…the idyllic little town I live in. When I’m at liberty to disclose the details of my secret basement meeting with Mitt’s top advisors, and their efforts to understand the Postmodern Conservative take on rock music, Building-Better-Than-They-Knew Studies, and all the other key issues, you will be the first to hear. Of course, some of Pete’s policy advice and Peter’s tag-lines really could help them!