The Cold War is just as frigid as ever over at Camp Romney, despite the USSR’s official demise in 1991. The Romney campaign has invoked the Red Menace repeatedly when criticizing the president’s foreign policy, doing so again on the eve of Romney’s world tour.
In fact, Obama’s failure to take the Iron Curtain seriously is one of the few fronts where Mitt Romney has remained on the offensive, and not bogged down trying to fend off talk of tax returns and outsourcing.
Romney himself led the charge on April 20, at an RNC State Chairmen’s meeting in Arizona. “[Obama] entered into an agreement with the Soviets, excuse me, with Russia,” he said, referring to the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
You could be forgiven if you took Romney’s statement as an innocent slip of the tongue, and in April we had no reason to take it any other way. But since Romney made this remark, his campaign has mentioned the Soviets with alarming regularity.
Less than a week later, John Lehman–a Romney advisor and former Navy Secretary–criticized Obama for withdrawing from his role as leader of the free world. “We’re seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us,” he said during a conference call with reporters.
During the same call, Pierre Prosper–the former Bush administration Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues–blasted the president for abandoning Czechoslovakia; another country most of the world agrees no longer exists.
Still, this is April we’re talking about. The primaries were still hot, and while Romney was on a roll, no one was calling him a presumptive anything. A presidential primary is a maddening affair, liable to drive anyone’s foot into the nearest mouth.
But on Wednesday, Richard Williamson–Mitt Romney’s Foreign and Defense Policy Senior Advisor–condemned Obama’s lack of leadership, and once again waved the hammer and sickle. ”Leading means engaging an issue like Syria…[which is] strategically important to the Soviet Union.”
I don’t think anyone in their right mind can think Romney and his fellows honestly believe the Soviet Union is alive and well, but we’re past the point where it’s safe to ignore these 80s flashbacks.
Russia is still a major player on the world stage. It has proven itself to be an important wildcard in Middle East diplomacy, and it remains to be seen just how crazy things are going to get up at the party in the Arctic–a region climate change has turned into the largest all-you-can-pump oil buffet in history.
Williamson and Lehman are right to bring these issues to the campaign table, but their Freudian slips give me the Fear. Approaching the Russia of today with a Cold War attitude is just about the most insane foreign policy I can imagine, second only to invading Canada.
There’s a dangerous mindset at work in Romneyland, and we haven’t seen the last of it. In a speech on Tuesday, Romney promised to lead the United States into an “American Century,” and described the world around us as “dangerous, destructive, [and] chaotic.”
And just what is Romney’s vision of an American Century?
“In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world…we secure peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve.”
It was a good speech, but his words echoed others I’ve heard, words spoken by Ronald Reagan at the height of the “Second Cold War.”
“None of the four wars in my lifetime came about because we were too strong,” he said. “It’s weakness that invites adventurous adversaries to make mistaken judgments. America is the most peaceful, least warlike nation in modern history. We are not the cause of all the ills of the world. We’re a patient and generous people. But for the sake of our freedom and that of others, we cannot permit our reserve to be confused with a lack of resolve.”