Jennifer Rubin has interviewed Romney, who reminds us that he really hates successful diplomatic engagement:
“You have to go back, “ he begins, “to when we pulled our missile defense sites out of eastern Europe. I wouldn’t have done it. But if we were going to do it, he should have gotten something of huge foreign policy significance. He didn’t.”
He’s under no illusions about Vladimir Putin. He is convinced that Putin dreams of “rebuilding the Russian empire.” He says, “That includes annexing populations as they did in Georgia and using gas and oil resources” to throw their weight around in Europe. He maintains that the START treaty was tilted toward Russia. “It has to end,” he says emphatically about “reset.” “We have to show strength.
Obviously, what the U.S. “got” in exchange that was very significant was the establishment of a relatively more constructive relationship with Russia, which has yielded benefits for the U.S. whether Romney is able to admit it or not. Romney considers the improved relationship with Russia as something that is in itself undesirable, and he wishes to revert back to the bad old days of late 2008 when the relationship was in its worst shape in decades. Let him campaign on that. That is what his sort of “strength” leads to: frozen bilateral ties and a dismembered client state.
Does Romney have any comment on the missile defense sites that are being installed in Romania, Poland, and even Turkey? I realize that he likes his talking points from 2009, but he might want to look into what has happened since then. If Romney still believes New START puts the U.S. at a disadvantage, is he proposing that the U.S. withdraw from the treaty? Given that Romney’s understanding of the issues related to the treaty is shoddy at best, I’d be interested to see him answer that question. Does Romney know what the word annexation means? If he did, he wouldn’t apply it to what Russia is doing in South Ossetia and Abkhazia right now. They do have de facto control in these areas, and they have recognized the nominal independence of the separatists to keep them as Russian satellites, but there are no other examples of the empire-building that Romney thinks is going on. Perhaps Romney agrees with the slogan that ignorance is strength?