Romney Reminds Us He Disagrees With President Obama About Things

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 18 2014 10:21 AM

Romney Reminds Us He Disagrees With President Obama About Things

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Former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leaves after he delivered remarks during the second day of the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 15, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published late Monday night, Mitt Romney laments the current state of affairs in Ukraine and a host of other countries ranging from North Korea to Afghanistan—and you can probably guess who he blames for the United States' inability to ensure its desired outcomes in those global hot spots:

Why are there no good choices? From Crimea to North Korea, from Syria to Egypt, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, America apparently has no good options. ... Why, across the world, are America's hands so tied?
A large part of the answer is our leader's terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."
When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community—and to the White House—that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more. That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.
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While Romney focuses the majority of his criticism on Obama, the man who beat him in the general election in 2012, he makes sure to work in a reference to Hillary Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016, toward the end of his short piece.

"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe," he writes. "Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed." You can read the full op-ed here.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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