Dan Drezner offers Romney some good advice here, but goes on to say this:
Relations with Pakistan, Russia [bold mine-DL], India and Canada have cooled off considerably since the Bush years.
Drezner is clearly right on Pakistan*, and there are reasonable cases to be made that Obama has handled relations with India and Canada poorly, but Russia? One needn’t be a supporter of current Russia policy to recognize that it isn’t the complete disaster of the late Bush years. I know I’ve beaten this topic to death lately, but this claim about relations with Russia being worse than they were during “the Bush years” is simply wrong.
This may be easy to overlook at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are cooler than they were a year or two ago, but apparently it can’t be repeated too often that the Bush administration drove the U.S.-Russian relationship into the ground starting in 2002-03 and then kept going down. U.S.-Russian relations were widely recognized to be at a post-Cold War low in August 2008 and during the months that followed, and administration policies and decisions contributed significantly to that outcome. The current administration had repaired a fair amount of the damage, but quarrels in the last year have undone some of that improvement. Outgoing President Medvedev said that the last three years “have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade.” Maybe that’s damning with faint praise. Relations between the two countries from 2002 to 2012 were mostly mediocre or poor. That doesn’t make the claim any less true.
One could argue that having improved relations with Russia is undesirable or unnecessary, or maybe one could say that it isn’t worth the trouble, but there’s really no question that U.S.-Russian relations are still better than they were in 2007-08. I would go so far as to say that they are still as good as they have been at any time since 2002-03, when the relationship started to decline rapidly because of another round of NATO expansion, the Iraq war, and the beginning of the “color” revolutions in post-Soviet space.
* Indeed, Pakistan is the only country on the planet where anti-American sentiment has increased above where it was in the Bush years, which has everything to do with U.S. strikes inside Pakistan and the U.S.-backed Pakistani military campaign in western Pakistan.
Update: Lawrence Martin insists that relations with Canada are also much improved:
To be sure, there have been disappointments here under Mr. Obama, as there have been under virtually every president. But to suggest that he somehow lost Canada is to get history upside down. This President didn’t lose Canada. After Mr. Bush, he won it back.