Mitt Romney tried to appear last night as if he and President Obama were not much different on foreign policy matters.
As with almost anything about Mitt Romney, nothing could be further from the truth.
Even more than the economy, war and peace is the most critical issue any country faces.
Mitt Romney and President Obama have widely divergent views on war and peace. Obama's is thoughtful, nuanced and sees war as a last resort, and only then in concert with key allies unless the U.S. or a very close ally is directly attacked or is faced with a very high likelihood of being attacked. Witness, for example, how the president skillfully managed to protect Libyan civilians from a bloodbath, employing the tools of supportive military power, engaging the Arab league and our allies, and not costing the life of a single American to oust Gaddafi.
Romney really does not have any views of his own. He has absolutely zero experience, and, it appears, zero knowledge of the world. Thus far, his only foreign policy achievement has been to unite all of Britain's political parties, including the Conservatives, around one belief -- for President Obama's re-election.
But, Romney fancies himself a tough guy (having run away from the war of his generation, he needs this psychological delusion).
And, in the shadows, waiting to take the reins of the U.S. military machine again, are the neocons, the Bush advisers who lied us into Iraq. They formed a "government-in-exile" during the Clinton Administration, forming an organization called "Project for The New American Century" in 1997. It's primary thrust: that the U.S. should employ its military power to change regimes it did not like, especially in the Middle East (so long as they and their own children were not doing the fighting).
The neocons considered Iraq only as a stepping stone:
"The gathering is taking place at 1150 17th Street, a Silicon Valley for rightwing thinkers and home to the American Enterprise Institute, the Weekly Standard and the Project for the New American Century. Only a year ago the big joke making its way around the building was, "'Baghdad is for wimps, real men go to Tehran.'"
Real men (but who never fight themselves)! The utter arrogance, the sheer hypocrisy, the extraordinary stupidity... and the tragedy that ensues.
In particular the Project for the New American Century people, like chickenhawks William Kristol (who turned red and blew his top at me in 2005 when, after claiming that he was in school during the Vietnam War as his reason for not volunteering, I pointed out that, when he graduated, the war still had several years to run) and Douglas Feith, have mythologized the Reagan presidency as a paradigm for U.S. foreign policy: huge military build-up, chest-thumping your values, and taking preemptory military actions to reshape the world in America's image.
Of course, Reagan never exercised the third leg of this so-called strategy, unless the Caribbean island of Grenada is supposed to be an object lesson in how this works in countries with enormous land masses, large populations, and -- sorry to say -- their own cultures. The U.S. kept its hands clean publicly, and even the weaponry supplied to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan that was organized primarily by Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX) and the CIA, could not have any U.S. origin. Reagan allowed Pakistan in exchange for funneling our support through that country a blind eye so that it could develop its nuclear weapon, aka the "Islamic Bomb," thus violating the Solarz Amendment.
Like George W. before him, Romney is an empty vessel, in psychological need of proving his manhood, that makes him the perfect puppet to fulfill the unfinished neocon agenda.
Romney may not know where the straits of Hormuz are on a map. The neocons do, they know that a large fraction of the world's oil supply passes through them and they know that creating an "incident" in such a narrow strait is child's play, and the best way of teaching Romney where they are.
There are those such as The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins who believe Romney would conduct a foreign policy similar to President Obama's, and Middle East expert MJ Rosenberg who opined that Romney's refusal in the debate to give Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a "green light" to bomb Iran meant that we can all rest comfortably.
I have total respect for each of them and their opinions. But, history suggests that they are very wrong.
I recall a certain George W Bush, a one-term Texas governor, who also knew nothing about foreign policy, who campaigned in 2000 on a "more humble" foreign policy compared to President Clinton. Not a peep of protest was raised by the neocons who had supported President Clinton's actions in Bosnia.
Odd? Their own candidate was a priori disowning not only their policy, but even President Clinton's less imperious one. But, like the night before Christmas, not a right-wing creature stirred in protest. Any guesses as to why?
Then, the neocons came to power (in somewhat of a coup d'état themselves). Even before "W" was sworn in, they were already cooking up plans to invade and occupy Iraq.
The advisers got what they wanted. Not a "humbler" foreign policy, but about as arrogant a foreign policy as we have ever had.
Romney talks too much like the neocons not to be utterly in their grasp. They are, with a few chairs changed, the same people.
Moreover, Romney has covered up everything else about his true intentions, running away from almost his entire program when he is speaking in public. In Romney's "quiet rooms," it is quite different. If a Republican Congress hands him a "personhood" bill for the District of Columbia, for example, who believes he would not sign it?
Why, one should ask, would Romney be running a stealth campaign on everything else, but be credible on this key element of foreign policy, so key that he has spent years ingratiating himself to the neocons?
Want to take this risk, again?
Einstein's definition of insanity comes to mind.