The article also briefly outlines Romney’s very strange belief that Russia is somehow on pace to become an economic hegemon. Indeed the extent to which Romney’s beliefs differ from those of Leon Aron, his Chief Russia adviser, is scarcely believable and, frankly, more than a little bit alarming. I don’t think a political campaign needs to have everyone in ideological lockstep, but Aron and Romney aren’t even marching in the same direction. Aron thinks that the far more serious danger facing the US is of a weakened and disintegrating Russia, while Romney thinks they are a “rising power” whose military and economic power pose a direct threat to American national security. Romney and Aron are not simply “not on the same page,” they’re not reading from the same book. Hell, they’re not even reading books in the same language.
What may be most disturbing about Romney’s perception of Russia is that it seems to have no relationship with his preferred policies towards Russia and the former Soviet republics. It’s bad enough when anti-Russian hawkish Americans assume that the U.S. can basically do whatever it likes in post-Soviet space because of relative Russian weakness, but it’s something far more worrisome to hear the same thing coming from someone convinced of future Russian strength. If Romney actually believes that “natural resources could vault Russia to a position of global influence rivaling any nation by midcentury,” as the article says, what possible sense does his policy of relentless anti-Russian antagonism make? If Russia were potentially in a position to have “global influence rivaling any nation” in just a few decades, would it not be in the American interest to cultivate good relations with Russia and to pursue every opportunity to increase American access to the Russian market? Yet that is exactly the opposite of the Russia policy favored by Romney and his supporters.
Instead, Romney’s idea is that the U.S. should scrap what little progress has been made in developing a constructive relationship, and Washington should revert to provoking and annoying Russia whenever possible. Romney’s assessment of future Russian economic power and influence is very strange and very wrong, but more troubling is his belief that nothing but antagonism is the best way to respond to a perceived rising economic power. That could help explain why his proposed China policy is equally provocative and foolish.