The Case Against Mitt Romney for State

by | Nov 30, 2016

The Case Against Mitt Romney for State

by | Nov 30, 2016

Frank Bruni makes the case for Romney as Secretary of State:

“Over his own two presidential campaigns, Romney became ever more fluent in international issues, and he even showed some prescience, identifying Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a grave menace before other politicians woke up to that. He was ridiculed for dwelling in the past. Turns out he was living in the future.”

The idea that Romney “showed some prescience” in 2011-12 about Russia (or anything else) is silly revisionism, but I expect we’ll hear about it a lot if Trump ends up choosing him. Even granting that a stopped clock can be right twice a day, Romney wasn’t right about any major foreign policy issues four years ago. Specifically, he called Russia our “number one geopolitical foe,” which wasn’t true then and still isn’t now. It was a silly line that was deservedly mocked because it was false (and because it showed Romney had no clue what he was talking about). He proposed to take actions intended to provoke and annoy Russia on the assumption that any attempt at conciliation or engagement is tantamount to appeasement. That is not prescience, but rather the most unimaginative hawkish line one could possibly take.

One of the purposes of engaging with Russia–or with any other powerful state–is to reduce tensions and minimize the risk of conflict. Romney’s agenda in 2012 was to increase tensions and to cast Russia as our principal foe in the world. That’s not clever or far-seeing, but represents an irresponsible and reckless approach to foreign policy. Putting Romney in a position where he would have a chance to put these bad ideas into practice is folly, and the only reason that it is being taken seriously at all is that his most likely competition appears to be even worse.

Read the rest at The American Conservative magazine.

About Daniel Larison

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas.

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