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There Is No Realist Case for Romney

Robert Merry and Dimitri Simes write this in their Romney endorsement:

But the Obama administration has failed to fully explore the limits of Tehran’s flexibility at the negotiating table. And, by allowing relations with China and Russia to deteriorate, it has missed a likely opportunity for generating greater pressure on Iran through a unified United Nations Security Council.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that all of this is absolutely correct. How does any of this support a decision to endorse Romney? If Obama has failed to explore “the limits of Tehran’s flexibility,” does anyone seriously believe that Romney will? This is a candidate whose contempt for diplomatic engagement is hard to miss. As I’ve said before, Romney’s position doesn’t lend itself to a diplomatic solution with Iran. He isn’t interested in finding Iranian flexibility. He wants Iranian capitulation, and that won’t be forthcoming.

If poorer relations with China and Russia have hampered efforts to pressure Iran, do the authors genuinely believe that Romney will be the one to repair them? Setting aside his most aggressive comments, Romney has nonetheless made it clear that he believes the U.S. has been too accommodating with both China and Russia, and his approach would be much less so. Maybe that is what Merry and Simes would like to see, but it isn’t compatible with a complaint that relations with China and Russia have deteriorated. It goes unmentioned that relations with Russia are still as good as they are now because of a Russia policy that Romney has opposed at every turn.

Indeed, there is no discussion of Romney’s statements or policy views in this article, except for a brief caveat that the authors do not agree with all of Romney’s positions. There is no assessment of Romney’s foreign policy views, and no attempt to explain why someone who has demonstrated so little understanding of foreign affairs should be entrusted with the Presidency. The authors are endorsing Romney by default, and they are giving no consideration to the risks of a Romney administration. It isn’t entirely surprising. There is no good argument that foreign policy realists can make in favor of Romney, except to say that he must have been lying to the public for the last several years.

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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