In a speech he gave at the Virginia Military Institute, Mr. Romney declared that “hope is not a strategy” for dealing with the rise of Islamist governments in the Middle East or an Iran racing toward the capability to build a nuclear weapon, according to excerpts released by his campaign.The essence of Mr. Romney’s argument is that he would take the United States back to an earlier era, one that would result, as his young foreign policy director, Alex Wong, told reporters on Sunday, in “the restoration of a strategy that served us well for 70 years.”But beyond his critique of Mr. Obama as failing to project American strength abroad, Mr. Romney has yet to fill in many of the details of how he would conduct policy toward the rest of the world, or to resolve deep ideological rifts within the Republican Party and his own foreign policy team. It is a disparate and politely fractious team of advisers that includes warring tribes of neoconservatives, traditional strong-defense conservatives and a band of self-described “realists” who believe there are limits to the degree the United States can impose its will.
[W]hile the theme Mr. Romney hit the hardest in his speech at V.M.I. — that the Obama era has been one marked by “weakness” and the abandonment of allies — has political appeal, the specific descriptions of what Mr. Romney would do, on issues like drawing red lines for Iran’s nuclear program and threatening to cut off military aid to difficult allies like Pakistan or Egypt if they veer away from American interests, sound at times quite close to Mr. Obama’s approach.And the speech appeared to glide past positions Mr. Romney himself took more than a year ago, when he voiced opposition to expanding the intervention in Libya to hunt down Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi with what he termed insufficient resources. He called it “mission creep and mission muddle,” though within months Mr. Qaddafi was gone. And last spring, Mr. Romney was caught on tape telling donors he believed there was “just no way” a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could work.
Which is to say, Romney was, once more, being dishonest, both about the president’s policies and about his own views.
There hasn’t been “weakness” at all, rather a mature and nuanced approach to foreign policy, along with a genuine understanding of the issues that shape global politics, that includes both diplomacy and military power, and indeed, far from abandoning America’s allies (code for Israel) President Obama has restored America’s credibility and standing in the world, a Herculean task given what was handed to him when he took office.
Romney apparently prefers the mindless swagger and bluster personified by George W. Bush, but, then again, it’s not clear what he really thinks about anything. He apparently wants the U.S. to act like a global bully, pushing its weight around and subjecting everyone else to its authority, but of course that’s both ridiculous and impossible. Otherwise, he changes his positions on anything and everything in accordance with the political winds. His VMI speech was just more of the same, baseless assaults on President Obama while saying what he thinks will win votes and avoiding specifics when it comes to what he would do as president.
And the consensus, outside of partisan Republican and ideologically conservative circles, was that the speech was largely a failure:
Associated Press: FACT CHECK: A one-sided story on trade, defense
Wall Street Journal: Albright Says Romney Speech Full of ‘Platitudes’