David Sanger pretends to be puzzled why Romney isn’t cultivating ties with Republican realists:
Curiously for a Republican candidate with virtually no foreign policy record, Mr. Romney has made little effort to court the old-timers of Republican internationalism, from the former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft to the former secretaries of state James A. Baker III, George P. Shultz and even the grandmaster of realism, Henry A. Kissinger. And in seeking to define himself in opposition to President Obama, Mr. Romney has openly rejected positions that George W. Bush came around to in his humbler second term.
One reason Romney isn’t making much of an effort to court the “old-timers” is that they represent a declining force in Republican ranks. Most of his advisers don’t agree with and don’t particularly like the “old-timers,” and Romney often attacks administration policies that the “old-timers” would support. Romney faults Obama for being too much like these people. Why would he try to court them, and why would they respond favorably? It’s true that Romney has “virtually no foreign policy record,” but his answer to that deficiency has been to align himself with some of the most hawkish elements in the party.
I’m not sure that “humbler second term” means very much in light of what Bush did during his first term. His second term might or might not have been “humbler,” but that doesn’t mean that its foreign policy was ever guided by realist assumptions. This is also frustratingly vague analysis. Which positions did Bush “come around to” in his second term that Romney has openly rejected? In what way was Bush’s second term “humbler”?
On some issues, Bush’s foreign policy was not as reckless as it had been or could have been, but Bush’s foreign policy was still being guided by all of the same flawed assumptions as before. The so-called “humbler” second term began with the most shockingly hubristic inaugural address since JFK. Bush’s foreign policy in his second term ran into the limits of American power, and the drain of the Iraq war prevented the administration from pursuing any other spectacularly harmful policies. However, this was also the period when the U.S. foolishly backed elections in Gaza, offered uncritical support to Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon, and enabled a reckless Saakashvili with misleading pledges of support and recognized the independence of Kosovo, both of which eventually led to the August 2008 war. Bush’s foreign policy in his second term was calamitous in its own way, and greater humility is not the characteristic I would ascribe to it.