The Republican candidates have shown a stunning lack of sense when it comes to their statements on international relations. As you may recall, at one of the 87 Republican debates, Rick Perry claimed that Turkey is run by islamic terrorists and questioned its membership in NATO. The comment unsurprisingly prompted outrage in Turkey, and the U.S. State Department was left trying to distance itself from the comments, as it sought Turkey’s cooperation in various crises in the middle east.
Never content to be outcrazied, Mitt Romney has gone after an even more significant ally:
Either with nuclear arms discussions or it has to do with missile defense sites and what he did with nuclear weapons already as well as the new treaty and to reduce our missile defense sites in Alaska, from the original plan. These are very unfortunate developments and if he’s planning on doing more, if he has things he’s willing to do, this is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe, they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors, the idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.
To be clear, I think it’s fair game to criticize foreign policy of the President you’re trying to unseat. But you’ve got to make those criticisms without interfering in the President’s ability to actually conduct foreign policy. Romney may even be right about Russia for all I know (they’ve certainly been an obstacle to getting Assad out of power in Syria) but he should keep his mouth shut about it unless and until he’s in office. Or, as former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and former Democratic presidential candidate Wes Clark put it:
Surely one lesson of the 21st century is that America’s security in the world depends on making more friends and fewer enemies. Governor Romney’s statement sounds like a rehash of Cold War fears. Given the many challenges we face at home and abroad, the American people deserve a full and complete explanation from Governor Romney. Good policy does not come from bumper sticker slogans. The next president is going to have to take America forward, out of war, and into other challenges. The rekindling of old antagonisms hardly seems the way to do it.
And guess what? If Romney takes the White House, expect a much softer line from him on Russia, once he no longer has to invent criticisms of President Obama out of thin air.