Romney's trip abroad has demonstrated that his foreign policy operation is "bush league" in more ways than one.
By now the entire world has gotten a chance to see that Mitt Romney is no foreign policy or diplomatic genius.
He went to Britain and insulted his host's preparation for the Olympic Games -- leading major British papers to run banner headlines like: "Mitt the Twitt" and "Nowhere Man."
He massively damaged whatever ability he might have had to broker Middle East peace were he elected president by theorizing that the economic difficulties of Palestinians stemmed from their inferior "culture."
On his visit to Poland, Romney received the endorsement of former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa. The Polish Solidarity union itself -- with which Walesa is no longer associated -- responded by issuing a statement attacking Romney as an enemy of working people.
Romney's debut on the foreign policy stage opened to horrible reviews.
He seems to insult people wherever he travels. He has demonstrated that he is completely tone-deaf -- that he has no ability to understand what other people hear when he speaks. That's bad enough in domestic politics -- but it disqualifies a leader from effectively representing the interests of the United States in dealings with other countries.
America simply can't afford to have a president who is a bull in a china closest careening around the world insulting people and making enemies. As Obama campaign spokesperson Jennifer Psaki put it, "he's been fumbling the foreign policy football from country to country."
And he has fumbled not just in failing to show diplomatic skill -- but also when he has tried to demonstrate policy expertise. In explaining his theory that Palestinian economic difficulties resulted from their "culture," Romney cited the difference between the per capital Gross Domestic Product of Israel and the Palestinian territories. "....for instance," he said, " in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capital just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000."
But he didn't even get that right. Not even close. In fact, according to the World Bank, Israeli per capita GDP is $31,282 compared to only $1,600 for the Palestinian areas.
All of this led the Washington Post to conclude that:
Romney has distinguished himself from Obama, but perhaps in ways he did not intend.
From a tactical point of view, Romney has faltered at times in trying to prove he has the policy expertise, personal skills and cultural intelligence to represent the country abroad.
Pretty bush league, right? But Romney has demonstrated his foreign policy operation is "Bush league" in another way as well.
Twelve years ago another Republican was running for president with very little foreign policy skill or experience. He made benign noises -- sounded almost like an isolationist -- during the campaign. But when George W. Bush took office he surrounded himself with a cadre of foreign policy Neo-Cons who left the country unprepared for 9/11 and then sent the country careening into the worst foreign policy disaster in half a century: the War in Iraq.
The worst part about Romney's audition on the foreign policy stage is that it made it crystal clear that the Neo-Cons are back.
All you need to do is have a look at the Romney foreign policy team:
- John Bolton -- Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and Ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush. Bolton cherry-picked intelligence reports in the rush to war in Iraq.
- Elliot Cohen -- Defense Policy Advisory Board and Counselor of the Department of State during the Bush administration. Cohen pushed false claims that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
- Robert Joseph -- Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security under George W. Bush. Insisted on including the false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger in Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address.
- Dov Zakheim -- Comptroller for the Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush. He predicted that Iraq War spending would be billions less than it was.
- Cofer Black -- Department of State Coordinator for Counter Terrorism under George W. Bush. Black played a key roll in the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques."
- Dan Senor -- Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesman for the Coalition Provision Authority in Iraq under George W. Bush. The New York Times wrote that, " As Iraq was entering its bloodiest days, Mr. Senor was a prophet and cheerleader for the Bush administration."
All of these people were on the Bush foreign policy team. Now they are all on the Romney foreign policy team.
In fact, Dan Senor, who was one of the most ardent apologists for the disastrous War in Iraq, has emerged as Romney's chief foreign policy spokesman.
This same group -- together with people like Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney -- surrounded the inexperienced George W. Bush and led him around by a ring in his nose. They will do exactly the same thing to the utterly spineless Mitt Romney if he is elected president.
This week's Newsweek magazine has a cover story about Romney's "Wimp factor" -- the fact that he has no core values and as a result would, if he were elected, be a puppet for the far right of the Republican Party.
The same would be true when it comes to foreign affairs.
Bottom line: if you liked the War in Iraq, you'll love the Bush foreign policy.
Americans United for Change has put up an excellent Web Video about the Bush/Romney foreign policy team. To view it, click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I4bgccrReg