Romney: The Innocent Abroad or the Sabre Rattling Nationalist?

Romney from a low point in his hapless and empty foreign policy speech at the VFW convention in Reno, Nevada, (See text….) has embarked on a very political and likely symbolic and rather pitiable foreign adventure with the intent to gain money, profile, and win some ethnic votes here at home. He seems not at all interested in really learning and is more concerned with scoring political points at home. Nor has he a clue to foreign sensibilities. 

On July 25th, a largely conservative Washington Post journalist characterized Romney as showing “an assertive American nationalism…. calling for a more aggressive posture in confronting the United States rivals and more consistency in dealing with its allies.” However, the recent comments by the newly minted right wing GOP candidate Gov. Romney have been nothing but empty words. 

Romney, a neophyte in foreign and security policy, is under the influence of uber hawks like Ambassador John Bolton, of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute who was a key member of the George W. Bush administration’s gang of “gotta get into wars” neocons that included Vice President Cheney.  These neocons pushed the un-needed war in Iraq, lied about weapons of mass destruction, and now seem bent on making enemies by doing the same with countries around the world.  

Their main aim and tactical tool, shown also on this trip abroad, is one of derogating President Obama’s character as less than American. In one of Romney’s remarks he said: “If you don’t want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president”, implying that Obama was not interested in America being a strong nation.  These have been the continuing GOP themes ever since the 2008 election and in desperation they have brought out every nasty, racist, and jingoist imagery in order to hide the fact that their substantive domestic and foreign policy which lack believability, favor just the very rich, and would be an international disaster with our allies and friends as well as with key problematic powers – whom we must deal with to achieve our national security goals.  

The BBC cemented that Romney seemed rather stiff and not at ease abroad.  To quote: “He looked stiff, as he always does, and slightly nervous.”  Another negative note was an ill-timed criticism by Romney of the British preparation for the London Olympics. For that comment the London mayor Boris Johnson, also known for putting his foot in his mouth, made the remark a subject of a rhetorical gibe to a Hyde Park crowd. Mr. Romney, embarrassed, backtracked after meeting UK PM David Cameron and predicted a “very successful” Olympics. There were however a number of gaffs.

Even at the start of the trip the Romney campaign made a misstep. When he arrived in London on Wednesday, his campaign found itself on the defensive after an unidentified Romney adviser was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper as saying: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special. Again, this implied that Obama does not, even when just months before Obama made that very point. The same advisor, later said to be a member of Romney’s foreign policy advisory team, stated “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

The conservative British newspaper said the remarks might “prompt accusations of racial insensitivity”. Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg responded to these comments, stating: “It’s not true. If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”  US Vice-President Joseph Biden said the adviser’s remarks were a “disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage.”

While in London, Romney met with Prime Minister Cameron, the opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the head of the UK intelligence agency (MI6).  Not least he raised some $2 million from rich Americans abroad mostly in the banking sector. 

All these racial allusions which some would say bigotry, do not play well in Europe where Obama’s approval ratings are around an 80 percent level. Romney is not trying to make friends abroad but rather playing to a right wing base at home. 

On Saturday, Mr. Romney is due to travel to Israel where he is to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials. Doubtlessly he will again take an aggressive stance on Iran and pledge the use of force and undying support of Israel. He will make a speech on foreign policy and again will hold a fundraiser where right wing Jewish Americans living abroad, will again provide enormous chunks of money for his campaign. He goes to Poland on Monday to talk with the country’s leaders and visit historical sites. 

What a contrast to Obama’s historic and well received visit made before his 2008 election where crowds attended his events and during which he addressed in a serious tone the major global challenges ahead. That tour ended with a speech to hundreds of thousands of people outside the Victory Column in Berlin, Germany.

 He clearly seems out of his depth abroad not a good sign for a candidate running for the position of leader of the free world.

We welcome your comments!

For a comparison of Obama and Romney’s views of foreign policy, check out our 2012 Candidate Quotes Page!

One thought on “Romney: The Innocent Abroad or the Sabre Rattling Nationalist?

  1. Maxine Jacobson - National Security Intern August 1, 2012 / 11:52 AM

    In regard to Israel and Romney’s desire for the right-wing Jewish vote, Op-Ed Columnist, Thomas Friedman, responded to the politicization of Israel and the failure of politicians, including Romney, to address the key issue of the Israel-Palestine Two State Solution.

    Here are some quotes and for the full piece, click here:

    “Much of what is wrong with the U.S.-Israel relationship today can be found in that Romney trip. In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue. In order to garner more Jewish (and evangelical) votes and money, the G.O.P. decided to “out-pro-Israel” the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel”

    “While Romney had time for a $50,000-a-plate breakfast with American Jewish donors in Jerusalem, with Adelson at his elbow, he did not have two hours to go to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, to meet with its president, Mahmoud Abbas, or to share publicly any ideas on how he would advance the peace process. He did have time, though, to point out to his Jewish hosts that Israelis are clearly more culturally entrepreneurial than Palestinians.”

    “On peace, the Palestinians’ diplomacy has been a fractured mess, and I still don’t know if they can be a partner for a secure two-state deal with even the most liberal Israeli government. But I do know this: It is in Israel’s overwhelming interest to test, test and have the U.S. keep testing creative ideas for a two-state solution. That is what a real U.S. friend would promise to do. Otherwise, Israel could be doomed to become a kind of apartheid South Africa.”

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