Romney's Number One Enemies List is a Long One
On Monday, GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney blasted President Obama's open mic comment to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he'll have more "flexibility" to deal with issues like missile defense after the November election. Predictably, a "disturbed" Romney denounced Obama's remark as "alarming" and "troubling." But what is surprising is that Governor Romney went on to brand Russia "our number one geopolitical foe." After all, before promoting Russia to enemy number one, Mitt Romney had already put China, Iran and Islamic jihadism atop his list.
That didn't stop Romney from talking tough about Vladimir Putin's Russia. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt's right-wing radio show, Romney explained that while "They don't represent a military threat to us at the present," Russia "is, after all, our number one geopolitical foe." That's a point Romney repeated to CNN's Wolf Blitzer:
"These are very unfortunate developments and if he's planning on doing more and suggest to Russia that he has things he's willing to do with them he's no willing to tell the American people, this is to Russia this is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight every cause for the world's worst actors, the idea that he has some more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed."
For his part, a surprised Blitzer was right to ask, "You think Russia is a bigger foe right now than, let's say, Iran or China or North Korea, is that what you're suggesting, Governor?" After all, aside from a small section about Russia in a campaign white paper, the country has hardly appeared on Mitt Romney's radar. (In his 2007 foreign policy blueprint published by Foreign Affairs, the word "Russia" appears exactly once.)
And the key to what Romney calls "an American century" is China.
"If you are not willing to stand up to China," Romney told a GOP debate audience in October, "you are going to get run over by China." In February, he took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to explain "How I'll Respond to China's Rising Power":
I will never flinch from ensuring that our country is secure. And security in the Pacific means a world in which our economic and military power is second to none. It also means a world in which American values--the values of liberty and opportunity--continue to prevail over those of oppression and authoritarianism.
The sum total of my approach will ensure that this is an American, not a Chinese century. We have much to gain from close relations with a China that is prosperous and free. But we should not fail to recognize that a China that is a prosperous tyranny will increasingly pose problems for us, for its neighbors, and for the entire world.
Then again, Romney suggests, the bigger threat may be Iran.
That's abundantly clear from Mitt's repeated proclamations that, "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon." As he explained in yet another Wall Street Journal op-ed ("I Won't Let Iran Get Nukes"):
Si vis pacem, para bellum. That is a Latin phrase, but the ayatollahs will have no trouble understanding its meaning from a Romney administration: If you want peace, prepare for war.
In case there was any question about the challenge from Tehran, Mitt Romney answered them in his October 2009 piece, "Iran: Biggest Threat Since Soviets":
The Iranian leadership is the greatest immediate threat to the world since the fall of the Soviet Union, and before that, Nazi Germany...If we allow Iran under the rule of the mullahs to get a nuclear weapon, it will make the problems America faces today look like a walk in the park.
Of course, a walk down memory lane produces a different version of Mitt's "greatest immediate threat." During his first presidential run, Romney warned that global Islamic jihadism was the successor to the USSR and Hitler's Germany:
"Let me turn to another kind of challenge because those have been domestic challenges in large measure. This is one in relation to our foreign challenges. And that is the challenge of the jihadists - radical, violent Islamists. It's really this century's nightmare. It follows in the path of the Nazism and the Soviet Communism that were so devastating to so many of our fellow human beings."
Just in case there were any doubts, in the fall of 2007 Mitt Romney released a campaign titled "Jihad" conflating all Muslim threats, real or imagined:
It's this century's nightmare, Jihadism - violent, radical Islamic fundamentalism. Their goal is to unite the world under a single Jihadist caliphate.
To do that, they must collapse freedom-loving nations like us.
As President, I'll strengthen our intelligence services. Increase our military by at least 100,000. And monitor the calls Al-Qaeda makes into America. And we can and will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
For his part, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev mocked Romney's desire to party like it's 1982. (In 2010, a shocked Fred Kaplan similarly skewered Romney's grandstanding, declaring, "In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and -- let's not mince words -- thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney's attack on the New START treaty.") Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner admonished the GOP's inevitable nominee, "Clearly while the president is overseas, he's at a conference and while the president is overseas I think it's appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country."
That's exactly. Mitt Romney should wait until President Obama gets home. Of course, by then Romney's "number one geopolitical foe" could have changed again.