Mitt Romney Should Run For President In 2016
You may recall Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012. Badly. Obama in fact became the first President since FDR to be reelected with unemployment so high.
But his rejection by his fellow citizens doesn’t seem to be sitting well with Romney. Unlike other failed candidates without a public office to fallback on, Romney is unwilling to quietly go away and let his party start to rebuild from the rubble he left behind.
No, Romney insists on giving interviews, appearing on late night shows and writing op-eds. He’d like to remind people that they were stupid to reject him in favor of Obama and that he was right on a number of things.
Yes, Romney was right about Russia during the campaign and Obama was wrong to scoff at it. Congratulations Mitt but you still lost.
Unfortunately for Mitt his desire to be thought smart and given respect has caused him to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that is supposed to show how much better on foreign affiars he would be than Obama. But like George Costanza and the Jerk Store, it’s too late and quite frankly, lame.
Let’s join Mitt on his survey of the world and see where his overly simplistic notions undercut the credit he wants for his Russia remarks during the campaign.
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.
So we should have lined up nations that are unwilling to act after a Russian invasion to make even tougher threats before one? This is the mythical notion that if only we have a President that is strong enough the world, including our allies, will simply bend to our will.
As far as the outcome Romney wanted to see, promising not to upset Russia’s “influence in Kiev”, I’m not sure how that would have been read by Putin as a sign of strength. Basically Romney is saying that he would have sided with the Russians to keep them Ukraine tied to Moscow even if that’s the opposite of what the protesters wanted. How exactly would he have achieved this and how is that a more moral position than what we are seeing now? That the US failed to rally a coalition to preserve the staus quo of the Ukrainian Russian relationship against the wishes of most Ukrainians is an odd critique coming from Romney.
As the rebellion erupted, the time was ripe for us to bring together moderate leaders who would have been easy enough for us to identify, to assure the Alawites that they would have a future post-Assad, and to see that the rebels were well armed.
Just find “moderate leaders”, promise the minority group that has been ruthlessly running the country for generations that will we protect them and give the rebels (who have from almost the start have included Al-Qaeda linked and other terrorist groups). Oh is that all? Easy peasy guys!
You might have noticed that right next door to Syria we had tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years and were never able to impose our will on the parties in that way. But we’d be able to do it at arms length in Syria because?
Speaking of Iraq.
The time for securing the status-of-forces signatures from leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan was before we announced in 2011 our troop-withdrawal timeline, not after it.
Did Mitt not notice that US troops did leave Iraq under a status-of-forces agreement signed by George W. Bush and that Obama ran and won the presidency promising to leave Iraq?
As for Afghanistan, again, there was an election in 2012 and Obama once again won on winding down our involvement there. You’d have thought Mitt would have heard of that one.
So is Romney saying the will of the American people shouldn’t be considered in matters of war and peace? Does he think Obama should flip on his campaign promises? We all know that Romney is comfortable changing positions like socks but it seems insisting others act similarly is a bit much.
Last but not least we have Egypt.
[After the start of the Arab Spring], pushing our friend Hosni Mubarak to take rapid and bold steps toward reform, as did Jordan’s king, might well have saved lives and preserved the U.S.-Egypt alliance.
Of course one reason people were hesitant to push Mubarak to hard was because it was widely feared that reforms would lead to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. As we saw after Mubarak was deposed that’s exactly what happened.
It’s easy to spit out platitudes about foreign policy but the reality of doing things is much more difficult. Romney clearly longs to be the man at the top and making the decisions. If he thinks he’s so qualified and that events have shown the American people to have been so wrong he should get back in the ring.
Of course running again would remind people of all the reason they rejected Romney in the first place.
Instead of trying to recreate the Jerk Store moment, Romney should follow Jerry’s advice and leave on a high note. Correctly identifying the challenge of Russia was just such a moment for Romney, the more he talks the sourer that note becomes.