Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mitt Romney's No Apology 2: Russia and Honduras

For my write-up today on Mitt Romney's No Apology: Believe in America, I'll focus on some things that Romney says about President Barack Obama's foreign policy.  Romney criticizes President Obama for ending President George W. Bush's plan for missile defense for Eastern Europe, as well as Obama's decision to support the reinstatement of leftist President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, even though the Supreme Court there had lawfully removed him.

There is another side to the story.  Obama ended the missile defense plans in order to reset relations with Russia, and the result was a START treaty and Russia helping us in Afghanistan (see here, here, and here).  And Obama favored the reinstatement of Zelaya as President in Honduras because the Honduran military had removed him, and Obama thought that democracy rather than military force should be the way to handle things in Honduras (see here).

One could argue that Obama's policy has not worked as well as hoped.  After all, Russia has not assisted us that much when it comes to Iran and Syria.  And Romney notes that Russia makes overtures towards Hugo Chavez.  But I wonder: Would taking a tough stand towards Russia better the situation?  We don't want Russia to think that it can walk all over us, but do we have much capital (if you will) that could actually help us were we to confront Russia?  During the Reagan Administration, the Soviet Union was in trouble because it could not support its large military and its economy at the same time, and there were economic problems that were caused by communism.  But, as Romney notes, Russia today is quite prosperous.

(UPDATE: This article says in response to Romney's convention speech, in which he made the same point about Russia and missile defense: "Here, Romney goes back to one poorly received comment he made during his star-crossed trip to Europe and the Middle East. Before he left in late-July, Romney, in a speech to the VFW, said Obama's actions in the region 'began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off.' That didn't sit well with the Slovakian foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Miroslav Lajcak, who told The Wall Street Journal, 'People have moved on. We are in a different situation now. We are discussing a different project. I see no reason to revisit discussions from three years back.' Lajcak was referring to the Obama administration's decision to tinker with the plan first put in place by President George W. Bush. Rather than plant missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, Obama has opted to build them aboard naval vessels and with the cooperation of all the NATO countries.")

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