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Romney’s Foreign Policy: Bush 2.0

The L.A. Timesreports on Romney’s supposed “distancing” from neoconservatives:

A senior Republican strategist close to the campaign said Romney was groping for a “version 2.0” of the foreign policy of the Bush era, but one that would more resemble President Reagan’s in the Cold War. It would seek to assert American leadership and values with a powerful military and bold rhetoric, but “with a more cautious view of where and when we use force.”

Almost by definition, one cannot have a “version 2.0” of Bush-era foreign policy that is also cautious about where and when to use force. If Romney is interested in a Bush 2.0 foreign policy agenda, that means that he endorses certain core elements of Bush’s record, including “preventive” warfare. Romney supported “preventive” warfare in Iraq, and there is every reason to believe that he supports waging such a war against Iran. One cannot be cautious about the use of force while still endorsing “preventive” war.

On the other hand, if Romney wants to imitate Reagan’s real record on foreign policy, that would mean that he is largely rejecting the Bush experience and many of his own current positions. One reason we can be reasonably sure that Romney’s foreign policy would not resemble Reagan’s very much is that Romney has already committed to a number of policies that are far more aggressive than any that Reagan pursued while in office. Unlike Reagan, Romney has no interest in arms control or arms reduction, and he made his rejection of a very modest arms reduction treaty one of the major elements of his criticism of the administration over the last two years. There is little reason to trust these references to a Reagan-like foreign policy, since Republican hawks have a very distorted understanding of what “Reaganite” or “neo-Reaganite” foreign policy is, and neoconservatives long ago co-opted the label so that it would refer to their views.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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