Mitt Romney: Still Infatuated With Discredited Neocon Ideas About Foreign Policy

How to Make Government Work
Sept. 13 2012 3:03 PM

Mitt Romney: Still Infatuated With Discredited Neocon Ideas About Foreign Policy

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., on Thursday.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/GettyImages.

So much for this election being about jobs, jobs, jobs. With tumult initially in Cairo and Benghazi, now Yemen and who knows where next, American policy toward post-Arab Spring nations will be a critical topic for our leaders. At a substantive level, the events of the past few days highlight the ambiguous trajectory of the Arab Spring. At a political level, the statements made by Mitt Romney were so factually misguided and patently political as to make clear once again how deaf Romney is to the way in which diplomacy should be conducted.

I want to connect the Romney statement—now so well-critiqued (see, for instance, William Saletan’s superb post on Slate today) to the point made by Kurt Eichenwald in his Sept. 10 New York Times op-ed and then further on my Current show that evening. The White House received about 70 CIA briefings stressing the imminence of an al-Qaida attack before 9/11, and yet didn’t sufficiently respond. A reason for this, Eichenwald said, is the prism through which the Bush White House saw the world. The neocons who were making decisions could not understand that nonstate actors such as Osama Bin Laden were perhaps just as important as the traditional state actors they had dealt with during their last time in the White House, eight years earlier. This may have led them to discount the importance of the new terrorist threat while focusing almost exclusively on the threat of Iraq.

Advertisement

So it is with Romney. The same neocons still surround him. He seems to still view the world and its threats through a Cold War prism, misunderstanding the threats that actually exist. The ultimate outcome of the Arab Spring is impossible to predict. But the one clear point so far is that Romney and his team have misstated what happened, misunderstood what needs to be done, and let politics intercede where careful diplomacy was needed. Bluster is not diplomacy, and a lack of understanding of history does not make good policy.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Behold
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 2 2014 11:16 AM Some McDonald's Monopoly Properties Matter More
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM Surge Pricing Is Not Price Gouging
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?