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The Romney Foreign Policy Team

[ 24 ] July 2, 2012 |

I have a new piece at Right Web on the Romney foreign policy team:

A campaign team has two purposes. First, to supply rhetoric and policy that will help the candidate win; second, to provide the nucleus for the group that will guide administration policy. Because the campaign team often becomes the policy team, there is a strong likelihood that presidential candidates will try to follow through on many of the promises they have made on the campaign trail. What kind of case is Romney making on defense, and whom is he relying on to make it?
Broadly speaking, Governor Romney has adopted a set of positions on military policy that fall well within what has become the Republican mainstream. In tones reminiscent of Republican presidential campaigns since the Reagan administration, Romney has argued for an increase in defense spending, suggesting that the Obama administration has left the United States vulnerable to foreign states and terrorist organizations. In particular, Romney has embraced the Heritage Foundation’s “4 Percent for Freedom” platform, the argument that the base defense budget should be fixed around 4 percent of national GDP.[6] On specific issues, Romney has generally argued for a more hawkish line than Obama, including more aggressive policies on Syria, Iran, and China.[7]

See also Ali Gharib.


Comments (24)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    And I’m sure Mitt will ’round-up the usual idiots!’, and give them cabinet positions if he wins.

    Bolton, Wolfie, Douggie “The Dumbest Motherf*cker on the Planet” Feith, and every other neocon maniac going back to Nixon who’s still alive.

    And Kristol and Krauthammer will write in support of Mitt’s wise and experienced choices.

    David Brooks will write one of his regular BS columns, and come to the conclusion that since, in the past, these people went through the nominating process, they’re really bipartisan choices by Mitt.

    And Friedman will say that Mitt’s stance towards the Middle East is tamer than Bush’s – less of a “Suck On This!” and more of a “Lick On That.”

  2. TT says:

    A foreign policy “team” that allows the likes of John Bolton to slither within a 1,000 mile radius should be constitutionally barred from running for dog catcher, much less the presidency.

  3. Cody says:

    You paint a very frightening picture. I agree with your assessment that Romney has responded to Obama’s foreign policy by going even more aggressive. Does the Overton Window apply to foreign policy? If so the norm might soon be one war, but when we’re feeling especially hawkish we will engage in multiple ground wars all over the globe!

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the President of the United States asking an Israeli PM for guidance on our foreign policies. Though I guess if the Chinese businessmen are going to own him anyways, it will give him some balance. Now there will be balancing influences with the Chinese and Israelis saying who to attack – and we know they never agree on things!

  4. Charlie Sweatpants says:

    You hit the nail on the head with “paranoia and incoherence”. The most worrisome aspect of a Romney presidency, foreign policy wise, is that by this time in 2016 we might still be in Afghanistan (regardless of whether or not the neo-cons also get their war against Tehran). Theoretically, distinctions between Romney and Obama on continuing the Afghan War would come out during the campaign, but Afghanistan gets less press than celebrity divorces, so I have my doubts on that.

    • James E. Powell says:

      Will the US military withdraw from Afghanistan while invading Iran is still on the table?

      • Hanspeter says:

        Of course. They’ll use Afghanistan’s western border to withdraw.

      • Charlie Sweatpants says:

        “Will the US military withdraw from Afghanistan while invading Iran is still on the table?”

        That depends on who’s at 1600 Pennsylvania. The Obama Administration is pretty nakedly copying their (relatively) successful Iraq withdrawal in their Afghan plans. Just like Iraq, there’s a schedule for our guys to increasingly stick to heavily fortified bases, then no “combat” after 2013, and finally no troops at all after 2014 unless the Afghans “ask”, which they are very unlikely to do (Karzai and company are more US-dependent than Maliki and company were, but the situations are roughly similar). That’s the plan, and since they’ve shown no willingness to attack Iran, much less invade it (thank Jebus), an Obama win in November strongly points toward an end to the Afghan War in his second term.

        Romney, on the other hand, has no clear position on Afghanistan besides some vague horseshit about “winning”. (Check out his website for an impressively meaningless word salad: But plenty of the people who advise him were hopping mad about the Iraq withdrawal, so there’s no reason to believe they’d look favorably on ending the other war, regardless of whether or not they can get away with bombing or invading Iran.

        Besides all that, it’s not like Afghanistan would be a great base for attacking Iran anyway. We can barely get enough supplies there as it is, and many (most?) of the combat sorties flown over Afghanistan originate from aircraft carriers, Bahrain, or other places that we’ll still be in after we cut Karzai loose. The only motivation Romney and company have for leaving Afghanistan would be to clear the decks for another war, but that assumes that the neo-cons have grasped the limits of American military power, which seems a bit far fetched.

        • firefall says:

          not just farfetched – impossible because its anamathetical to them

        • joe from Lowell says:

          The Obama Administration is pretty nakedly copying their (relatively) successful Iraq withdrawal in their Afghan plans. Just like Iraq, there’s a schedule for our guys to increasingly stick to heavily fortified bases, then no “combat” after 2013, and finally no troops at all after 2014 unless the Afghans “ask”, which they are very unlikely to do (Karzai and company are more US-dependent than Maliki and company were, but the situations are roughly similar).

          Hooray! Somebody else noticed this!

  5. Daragh McDowell says:

    As a Russianist I have somewhat mixed views of Romney’s ‘geopolitical foe’ comments. Part of me finds it deeply disturbing, likely to further empower the most hardline and reactionary elements in the Kremlin elite and thus become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy (not Russia being a main anything, just a really antagonistic relationship getting even worse.) The other part thinks its standard GOP election year omni-directional belligerence. The party likes to encourage furriner bashing – just look at McConnell’s comments that the GOP won’t turn the US healthcare system into a ‘Western European’ one (that is, one that is vastly superior by virtually every metric to the US model.) It knows its base is filled to the brim with nasty, racist xenophobes and it panders to them – but when push comes to shove there are plenty of oil companies making a lot of money in places like Kazakhstan, and the Republican party and the siloviki caste have a shared enthusiasm for slaughtering muslims counter-terrorism that leads to quite a bit of intelligence sharing. In other words, the rubes are being played for suckers, just like when the GOP rails against ‘elites.’

    In short, while I agree with most of the substance of Rob’s essay, there’s a danger in taking any Republican election year rhetoric too seriously. This goes double for a shameless hack like Romney, who has demonstrated that outside defending the pocket books of the ultra-rich he has no particular policy goals or preferences and will do or say whatever he calculates will help him win the presidency at that particular moment in time. I mean c’mon – does anyone seriously doubt that if a poll came out tomorrow showing Romney could lock in Florida if he were a cannibal, wouldn’t immediately release a decade of purchase orders for Fava beans and Chiante?

    • rea says:

      Honestly, the things people are willing to say about Romney! Cannibalism, fava beans and chianti? You won’t find a Mormon drinking chianti . . . (clown question, bro, as another Mormon said when questioned about alcohol consumption).

      • Daragh McDowell says:

        Whoops! Forgot that. Then again ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of caffeine free diet coke’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

      • Bill Murray says:

        you know how you keep a returned missionary from drinking all the beer at you party?

        Invite a second returned missionary.

        Please tip the wait staff well.

  6. Joshua says:

    What’s so great about 4%? Or is it because it is around 4% now (not counting a bunch of other stuff, of course) and would theoretically grow every year?

    What will happen in a recession – will the budget be cut? GDP growth is only around 2%, is that even good enough for the wingnuts?

    Do we need to spend 1 out of every 25 dollars produced in this country on the war machine?

  7. mike in dc says:

    Maybe they can spend some of that filthy lucre on updated Tillman Plan battleships. Or perhaps a nuclear-powered bomber. Maybe some sort of giant, nigh-indestructible drone tank.

  8. James E. Powell says:

    Each party has a crowd of foreign policy & national security big shots who decide and run policies. Neither of these groups has the best interests of people who live in the United States as their principal concern. It has been this way for some time.

    Romney & Co will lather away at the usual right-wing claims: weakness, failure to show resolve, indecision, hatred of Our Brave Troops, cutting the budget so that we are left to defend ourselves with spitballs, and so on. And as the campaign goes on, they will pray each day that something bad happens somewhere so that they can argue that this event proves their claims.

    I recall that before the Iranian hostage situation and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (November and December of 1979, respectively), Reagan’s main “foreign policy” argument was based on the “surrender” of the Panama Canal.

  9. dan t. says:

    Isn’t it amazing? Sorry to flog my own blog, but only 15 minutes with web search and I drew up this image to explain to skeptical friends (and I cheer their skepticism) that if they thought Romney was a break from the George W. Bush policy legacy, signs pointed to “not so”:

    Now, they did have some good points. First, there is some good in continuity. Some truth to it, but really, these guys? Second, that there exists a small set of people that can fill positions they’ve engineered to require very specific skill sets. Third, there has always been kind of a permanent bureaucracy. And indeed Obama brought in a lot of Bush and Clinton exes for his administration. But, again, THESE guys?

    • Charlie Sweatpants says:

      You need to give that .png file a title and put it someplace more people can see it. The overlap between Bush people and Romney people is impressive but hard to quickly explain to people.

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