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

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.