Romney’s Five Wars

Mitt Romney’s speech at VMI on foreign policy has been widely condemned as vague and lacking in substance, sort of like the man who gave it. But the speech is also full of suggestions and criticisms of the Obama administration that are simply not realistic. The speech is Romney’s “Mission Impossible,” only without the cool theme music and also without a prayer of being actually achievable short of launching a series of 5 wars. I’ve decided that my initial assumption that a businessman of Romney’s experience must know something about the world was dead wrong. Apparently it is possible to sit in cushy big offices in companies like Bain, and to remain completely ignorant of foreign affairs. Romney’s speeches are all just a replaying for us of the prejudices of CEOs when they play golf together and complain vaguely about the Chinese, Russians, Arabs, and so forth. Or, maybe Romney has gotten so many campaign contributions from arms manufacturers that he can’t help see foreign affairs through the lens of new wars he wants to fight.

1. The First War: Return to Iraq

Romney wants to send US troops back into Iraq and complained again about Obama’s “abrupt” withdrawal from that country. I don’t know how many ways there are of saying this, but it was from the beginning absolutely impossible for US troops to remain in Iraq legally. Romney apparently let Dan Senor, Bremer’s Neocon spokesman who came out to lie to us every day in Baghdad, write the following paragraph:

: “In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran. And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence. The President tried—and failed—to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.”

Romney’s premise, that the US military in Iraq had some sort of ‘achievement’ that is in danger of being lost now that it is out of the country is ridiculous. The United States launched an illegal war of aggression on Iraq that virtually destroyed the country and kicked off a power vacuum that eventuated in a civil war that still continues at a low level. In 2006 when there were over 150,000 US troops in Iraq, in some months the death toll from political violence was 2500. That doesn’t even count all the armed Iraqis the US military was killing. The United States military never controlled Iraq and could never prevent bombings and attacks. When the US troops stopped patrolling major cities, the death toll promptly fell, because guerrillas were no longer setting improvised explosive devices to hit US convoys– operations that often wounded Iraqi by-standers as well.

In August, 2012, the death toll from political violence in Iraq was 164, half what it had been in July, after a crackdown by Iraqi army and police. So Romney is just wrong that there is some sort of secular trend in Iraq toward the kind of violence that had racked the country half a decade ago, and it is wrong to think that the US military was anyway primarily responsible for the end of the mass killings. What appears to have happened is that in 2006-2007, Iraqis living in mixed neighborhoods having both Sunnis and Shiites ethnically cleansed one another. Once the neighborhoods were mostly only one sect, the killing subsided (you’d have to get in your car and drive a while to find someone of a different persuasion to kill). That wasn’t a US achievement, it was a US failure!

By the way, it seems likely that more people are still being killed monthly in Mexico’s drug war than die in Iraq of sectarian strife. Does Mr. Romney want to put Woodrow Wilson’s troops back into Mexico along with W.’s troops in Iraq?

It was the then leader of the Republican Party, George W. Bush, who negotiated the December 31, 2011, deadline for withdrawing US troops from Iraq with the Iraqi parliament. Obama simply implemented the agreement Bush signed. The reason the accord had to be worked out with the Iraqi parliament was that Bush wanted to be sure that US officers and troops could not be prosecuted for military actions they undertook in Iraq. The only way to forestall such prosecutions was a bilateral agreement authorizing US troops to fight in Iraq, and signed by the Iraqi government. Simply negotiating it with the prime minister would not have made it legally solid enough to protect the troops. Their presence had to be authorized by the Iraqi legislature. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was barely able to get the agreement passed, and only succeeded because it seemed to a lot of members of parliament their best bet for ushering US troops out of the country.

For that agreement to be renegotiated so that US combat units remained in Iraq would have required another vote of parliament. The Iraqi parliament is dominated by Shiites, along with Sunnis and a minority of Kurds. The Kurds were the only group that might have voted to keep US troops in the country, and they just don’t have that many seats. The Islamic Mission (Da’wa) Party of al-Maliki, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and the Sadrists or followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, dominate parliament, along with Sunni nationalists. None of them wanted US troops in their country in the first place. They would never, ever have voted for a continued US troop presence in Iraq, and there would have been no way for Romney to make them do so if he had been president. His snide implication that Obama had a shot at this endeavor, and took it and missed, is just inside the beltway wishful thinking.

Guys! The Iraqis don’t like you. They didn’t want you in their country. They didn’t give you candy or put garlands around your neck. They killed over 4,000 of your troops, hundreds more of your contractors, and only failed to kill more because they were poorly armed compared to you.

After 8 years of ‘shaping’ Iraq, you got a Shiite government allied with Iran and Syria, the leader of which is now in Moscow seeking a $5 billion arms deal from Mr. Putin, so as to become more independent of the US. That was your best shot at empire, with hundreds of thousands of troops cycling through and a trillion dollars to play with, and it didn’t work. Because in today’s world it doesn’t work. Political-military empire is over. People are mobilized.

The only way for the US to dominate Iraq any more would be to re-invade the country, which would be Romney’s first war.

2. War number 2: Syria

Romney apparently wants to get deeply involved in the civil war in Syria. It is not clear why, except that he wants to differentiate himself from Obama. On Libya, he had grudgingly accepted the no-fly zone but called anything beyond that ‘mission creep’ and ‘mission muddle,’ and he thought too many resources were going into overthrowing Gaddafi. But apparently he isn’t afraid of mission creep were he to put his hand into the Syrian beehive. He said,

“The President has failed to lead in Syria, where more than 30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the past 20 months. Violent extremists are flowing into the fight. Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region.”

He goes on to say later in the speech,

“we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us. Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not forget that you forgot about us.” It is time to change course in the Middle East . . . “

“In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.”

So, it seems clear that Romney wants to “lead” in Syria, i.e., get involved in the war there.

But the reason that not only Obama but the entirety of Europe has declined to get involved in Syria is that there is no UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. In its absence, any army that used force except in self defense would be open to being hauled before judges in the Hague or judges in some country where the judiciary claims universal jurisdiction.

If the US went into Syria unilaterally, the same thing would happen to Romney as happened to Bush– the US would bear all the costs and would gradually become isolated and alone in the enterprise. As for fearing that people won’t forget that the US did not come to their aid, you could equally fear all the people who will be upset that the US intervened militarily, or you could fear ingratitude even if we did intervene (there are lots of examples of both).

3. The Third War is with Iran

Romney couldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment program if he were president, any more than Obama can. That step would require an invasion and occupation of the country. Simply bombing the facilities would only briefly set them back.

Romney said,

“I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.

For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions—not just words—that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated. I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security—the world must never see any daylight between our two nations. I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf. “

)

But close cooperation with Israel against Iran would ensure that none of our Arab allies would be willing to associate themselves with such a campaign. There is a reason that George H. W. Bush kept PM Yitzhak Shamir out of the Gulf War.

And, Romney can’t tighten sanctions on Iran any further without going all the way to an actual naval blockade of Iranian commerce. The US already has a financial blockade against Iran. Blockades, like ultimatums, cause wars. Countries threatened with strangulation frequently strike out. Even more stringent sanctions and blockades risk pushing Iran into reacting violently for self-preservation.

4. The fourth war is in Afghanistan. Although Romney said he would wind down the war there by 2014, just as Obama has pledged, he intended to ‘remain strong’ and to ‘consult our military,’ i.e. he implicitly is reopening the question of the US withdrawal from that country. He said,

“President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.

I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation. ”

There is no reason for Romney to bring up his political prospects being damaged unless he is considering reneging on Obama’s pledge to get out of Afghanistan. Likewise, that is implied by his reference to ‘evaluating conditions on the ground’ and taking ‘the best advice of our military commanders.’

On Afghanistan, Romney is pulling an anti-Nixon. He appears to have a secret plan not to end the war in Afghanistan.

5. The small wars: Intervention in Yemen, Somalia, perhaps even Libya in a ‘war on terror.’

The US has hit Yemen and Somalia with drone strikes and is occasionally kind of at war in those countries, though it is a desultory, occasional, and limited sort of conflict.

Romney says that drones are not enough. What would you use in such conflicts besides drones? Infantry? The implication of being ‘more forceful’ and dismissing drone strikes is that you would support the insertion of troops into those conflicts.

Romney’s various wars would, if pursued, bankrupt the country and cause more backlash and terrorism against the United States. Romney thinks that US prestige flows from strength, defined as military might.

But in fact what people in the Middle East admire about the US is its values, such as democracy and the rule of law. They hate our military hubris and still have not forgiven us for what we did to Iraq.

The only positive thing about Romney’s speech was his commitment to getting a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Unfortunately, we know from his leaked fundraiser recording of last May that he intends to ‘kick the can down the road’ on the Israel-Palestine issues, and that he does not trust the Palestinians with a state. So that positive language is just lies.

Four or five wars and lots of other conflicts are not a foreign policy vision, they are a nightmare.

43 Responses

  1. While strongly agreeing with Juan’s comments here, in fact the US is already involved far more widely. An AP report on 4 October included:
    “… For the Special Operations Command, spokesman Col. Tim Nye would not discuss “the missions and or locations of its counterterrorist forces” except to say that special operations troops are in 75 countries daily conducting missions.”

    75 countries!

    • It’s so very reminiscent of how cancers spread by metastasis.

      Little outposts of malignant cells are dispatched from the original tumor and migrate, silently, stealthily and intentionally invisible to the immune system that ought to police them, engulf them and return their components to healthy homeostatic processes.

      Once the outposts glue themselves to a new site, they send out messages that trick the body into angiogenesis, link to medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com — the growing of new arteries, BIG arteries, feeding lifeblood full-force into the “successful” distant tumors, letting them grow unchecked, killing and displacing healthy tissue.

      Unchecked, that is, except by the eventual cachexia, link to medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com, and death of the host.

  2. Thank you again, Juan, for a most clear and cogent analysis.

    We Americans who are concerned with long-term peace and civil liberties are not being well-served by either major party, yet as discussed in this space previously there are quantitative and qualitative reasons to work for and vote for Obama in this election.

    Nevertheless the continued growth of the military and the related security bureaucracy is in some not-small part our own fault as peace-seeking Americans, as we have yet to organize ourselves well enough to counter the pressures from the military-industrial complex. The occupy movement was a nice start, it would be shame if our young people’s passionate belief in participatory democracy made it more difficult to build effective organization in an era that is theoretically more open than ever to effective self-organization.

  3. The new polls say Romney is likely to win in November. (“Thanks for abdicating, Obama.”) If Romney means what he says — and with him, one never knows — we will witness the Hubris Doctrine at work with predictably calamitous consequences. Can you imagine Walid Phares, Dan Senor and John Bolton setting the tone for American MIddle East and foreign policies? Yikes.

    • That is just not true. Romney is ahead in one poll. Obama in most others.

    • Intrade (the leading political futures market) currently puts Obama’s chances of reelection at about 65 percent, down from 71 percent before the last debate. This is based on people who are willing to bet money on the outcome, and have presumably factored in things like the electoral college, etc.

      I wish someone would ask Romney for his response to the European economic situation, or China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

  4. Mitt Romney just does not get it that counter-insurgency (i.e., “nation-building”) has not worked, neither in Iraq nor in Afghanistan. We handed Iraq to the Iranians, and Afghanistan will implode into its usual warlord sectors after we depart. As I have pointed out before, the only successful counter-insurgency action was the British in Malaya, and neither the circumstances nor our capabilities favor us in such an endeavor, as they did the British in Malaya.

    We should continue what we have been good at: Counter-terrorism. Using our array of intelligence techniques, we should locate and determine terrorist threats, whether in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or some other country, and take them out, if these countries are unable or unwilling to do so. We have the legal right to do so, under the doctrine of self-defense, enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. And we have demonstrated we have the ability, using drones, Special Ops inserted and extracted, and other means as well.

      • A silly analogy that only works if you accept as an undisputed proposition the notion that any American use of force, in any place, for any reason, is inherently evil.

    • Sez who, “we’re good at” counter-terrorism? Trillions of dollars to maybe kill a few hundred “terrorists?” ain’t done a whole lot to increase or even maintain the stability of the world, improve “our” security, advance the economic interests of Average Americans or any other bunch of Ordinary People, any of that crap that the Great Gamers claim it’s all supposed to be about. Rather more the opposite. My grandma’s advice to mostly mind my own business sure seems a lot wiser than the crap emitted by a Wolfowitz or a Cheney. Or a Jeb Bush, with the chutzpah to claim of W that “My brother kept us safe.” link to thehounddawg.com Not.

      It’s a good thing that Mr. Bill’s “WE” only extends to a pretty small bunch of Experienced Players, here and there. I guess that’s a good thing. Bill knows the actual large “WE” doesn’t subscribe to the vast majority of the stuff “THEY” tell us is the way Wise People play the Game for us, moving us little Game Pieces across their Big Board and off the Board into the Bone Pile…

      Though a tiny minority of “US,” included in that “WE” of his, are seriously going about doing “stupid” on a planetary scale, driven by “doctrines” that at the far end of the pipeline are abject idiotic destructive painful failures, but of course upstream are nice cushy billets for chicken hawks, war wimps, jingoists, creatures like Curtis LeMay and his buddies, all of that. Who have figured out how, like creepy little parasitic catalysts, to diddle the rest of us into making the world fit their putrid little world view, and pay for their pleasure with our real wealth and our lives.

      But he can take a quick read of scholarship like that of Barbara Tuchman, in works like “The March of Folly:”

      Barbara Tuchman was the greatest popular history writer of the late 20th century, and this is her finest book: a work of history for those who don’t read history. Unlike the typical history which tackles a period and/or region, this book examines, in quite of bit of detail, four instances of folly in human history. This turns out to be a remarkably useful device for learning about the kinds of events that drive human organizations to places they don’t often go — and in these four cases, shouldn’t have gone.

      The book defines folly by examining the first case, letting the Trojan Horse into Troy. To qualify as folly for this book, Tuchman explains, acts have to be clearly contrary to the self-interest of the organization or group pursuing them; conducted over a period of time, not just in a single burst of irrational behavior; conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; and, importantly, there have to be people alive at the time who pointed out correctly why the act in question was folly (no 20/20 hindsight allowed).

      In the case of the Trojan Horse, the latter role is played by Laocoon, a blind priest, who chastises Trojan leadership the moment the wooden equine is found. “You can’t bring that thing in here,” he says, “it might be full of Greek soldiers!” Later, as it becomes evident the will to bring it in is strong, he suggests helpfully, “Well, if you’re going to bring it in, at least poke it with a spear and see if anybody yelps.”

      link to stoneschool.com Segue to Vietnam, Iraq, Notagainistan, bomb-bomb-Iran…

      “Folly” should comfort him that nothing is likely to change, and that sneaky little miasma that is the “WE” he subscribes to will be easily able to keep on keeping on. Bet that makes him happy…

      And then flip on over to “The Proud Tower,” which catalogs the idiocies of human behavior, tribal loyalties over more sensible self-interest in stuff like self-preservation (see: WW I, the Great War), and the apparent constant lust, occasionally peaking, for COMBAT. Fomented by little sneaks who make weapons, “make policy” and make off with all the money. (see: German “Nazis,” escaping the fall of the idiot Third Reich in U-boats and cargo ships, hiding behind false passports and abetted by “Western security services,” off to Argentina and such places with lots of very portable wealth…)

      • After you have finished hyperventilating with your trusty file of 3×5 cards, with their predictable words and phrases that you use interchangeably (“Great Gamers,” “Experienced Players,” “Wise Men,” “Notagainistan,” etc.), I suggest that you get out your Webster’s and look up the word that neatly sums up your rant: “irrelevant.”

        By the way, Mr. McPhee, how do you decide the order in which your overused words and phrases should appear? Do you shuffle your 3×5 cards, as one would a deck of playing cards, and take them from the top? Do you ever cheat and sneak one off the bottom?

      • Sez who, “we’re good at” counter-terrorism? Trillions of dollars to maybe kill a few hundred “terrorists?

        We didn’t spend trillions of dollars try maybe kill a few hundred terrorists. We spent trillions of dollars on the Iraq War and on the post-al Qaeda war in Afghanistan, neither of which was about killing terrorists.

        Once upon a time, JT understood the difference between Saddam and bin Laden, between occupying Iraq and stopping terrorism, between invading a country and fighting a cadre of terrorists, between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency.

        Not anymore, though. Remember all of those old statements about the Iraq War having nothing to do with 9/11? That is “no longer operative.”

  5. The fact that a serious candidate for the American Presidency is spouting such reckless, insane nonsense speaks volumes about the degeneracy of your so-called “democracy.”

    A REPUBLIC requires folks who are self-disciplined enough to INFORM themselves about what their politicians are advocating or even suggesting.

    In light of that, please consider who is Iran’s major oil-producing ally that has just been re-elected in South America? Don’t you American sheep imagine that he–who probably hasn’t got that much longer to live and consequently probably wants to make his “mark” in socialist history–would want to shut down America’s oil supply in retaliation against the attack on his ally?

    By how much do you suppose the loss of Venezuala’s oil supply to the States would raise oil prices all over North America? Does Mitt Romney plan military action in South America, in order to strengthen Israel?

    And I haven’t even mentioned the Chinese or the Russian responses? Do you Americans not understand that you are actually seriously considering igniting World War III?

    • You do realize that you’re basically in the “new left review” of American blogs, don’t you? You should consider taking your heat elsewhere.

    • “A REPUBLIC requires folks who are self-disciplined enough to INFORM themselves about what their politicians are advocating or even suggesting.”

      Yes Bruce, but how can a republic maintain a sufficient number of such folks when a potential leader and his supporters are committed to planting and “harvest”ing the worst of human qualities: divisive ignorance and juvenile impatience? As Mr. Romney demonstrated last week and as was amplified by the MSM. The great masses are both victims and the victimizers! Sad to say that the 1%, Romney and his friends, can muddy the waters enough to keep the 99% actively engaged in self-destructive abandon and/or paralysis instead of self-disciplined enlightenment. Obama represented a relative hope in 2008 and ,most importantly, he still does in 2012.

    • The vehement bigotry with which people feel entitled to discuss Americans would never be tolerated if the subject was any other peoples in the worlds.

      Which is to say, stick it where the sun don’t shine, chumpy. You’re not the only person on the planet who’s ever read Howard Zinn.

    • “Do you Americans not understand that you are actually seriously considering igniting World War III?”

      Do you, Mr. Lewis, not understand that you are actually seriously demonstrating your profound lack of knowledge and understanding of international affairs? And your snide reference to “American sheep” illustrates just how misinformed you are.

      If you think Venezuela would harm it’s economy by cutting off it’s biggest customer, the U.S., you are naive beyond words. And as to China’s and Russia’s response? What would that response be Mr. Lewis? World War III? From what diploma mill did you purchase your degree in international relations? World War III! American sheep! Indeed!

  6. Yes, sadly, Romney and the GOP only have two serious criticisms of the Obama foreign policy: 1) It’s Obama’s (i.e., not theirs), and 2) They want more of it.

    Sad, both for what it says about how dismal the Obama admin has been on this issue, and for how the GOP has still managed to commit themselves to a noticeably worse plan.

  7. 75 countries, huh! I had no idea, but somehow I am not surprised. At least Romney, through this speech, has confirmed that he is one of the M&M (money and munitions) crowd.

  8. We need to stop thinking that the “two state solution” will solve anything. An Israel that discriminates against its minorities will never be at peace. This is true no matter what happens in the occupied territories. The term “Jewish State” describes the problem; a country with one type of people on top. Israel must become a country where all people are treated equally. There is no other path to peace.

    • You are correct! There must be one Israel/Palestine and no national religion, except assuming the mandate of defending all minorities of the world, everywhere in the world. The villages can set their own local cultures that can be Jewish or Muslim or anything else.

  9. “it was from the beginning absolutely impossible for US troops to remain in Iraq legally.”

    Legally? Has “legality” been a predominant (or any sort of) American government concern? Fourth Geneva Convention and Palestine and Israel’s illegal settlers, settlements, and wall? American drone attacks on our ally (and nuclear-armed super-giant, rivalling even Iran) Pakistan? Legality and American use of torture (under Bush and Obama)?

    I’ve got nothing against a concern for legality. I preach legality, a/k/a rule of Law. But while I think it may sometimes be an American (people) concern, I don’t think it is an American government concern.

    Just sayin’.

    • Drone attacks, or any other sort of attacks, against an enemy that has attacked you are legal under Article 51 of the UN Charter. It would be difficult to imagine a more textbook example of legitimate self-defense than shooting at a foreign terrorist organization that has staged attacks on your country and is attempting to stage more.

      And there is not even the slightest hint of evidence that torture has occurred under Obama. As we learned from Abu Ghraib and the torture memos, torture doesn’t stay secret. It gets out. People talk, orders are given, and the truth comes out. It’s been almost four years now since Obama issued the executive order banning torture, and no such evidence has emerged.

  10. New verb: Romney – to change positions at random on any issue without any substantive conviction regarding prior and revised views.

    But I think Romney is less naive about foreign affairs than one thinks. Bain was quite an operator in the Russia’s privatization program (not pretty). Bain and Russian cigarettes

  11. Mitt Romney’s background is in business, not foreign policy or the military.

    Don’t expect a lot of him in these complex areas of government. Just lip service to his audience.

    Presidents like Eisenhower, Kennnedy, Carter, and George H.W. Bush all had military and/or foreign policy experience and could articulate coherent and intelligent analyses in those areas – they were respected and knowledgeable chief executives. Our last two presidents and Mr. Romney leave much to be desired in these extremely important areas of governance.

    Let us hope Romney, if elected, can give us a competent secretary of state who can persuade him in the right direction.

  12. And which of these wars will Romney’s sons be fighting in?

  13. My big takeaway from Romney’s comments about “drones are not enough, you need a plan for the Middle East” is that he does not approve of Obama’s policy of limiting the conflict to one between the US and the members of a small death cult, and instead, wants to return the the Bush era, when the 9/11 attacks, and our response, were envisioned as a grand geopolitical conflict that will turn on “control” of states by American clients.

    Like Bush, he’s not interested in solving the real problem (al Qaeda), and wants to go back to playing around on the Risk board instead.

  14. Your description of Obama “simply” implementing the AUMF Bush negotiated. If the total withdrawal of all American troops and the abandonment of the bases (and, therefore, our ability to station forces there like in Kuwait) was such an automatic, easy thing, then why didn’t anyone, left or right, say this in 2008? John McCain was quite determined to stay there for fifty why not a hundred years. People on the left were assuring me that there was no way Obama would ever withdraw the troops, because the MIC wouldn’t let him and how could I be so naive?

    Now, people on the left want to pretend that this development they were certain would never, ever happen was actually inevitable all along.

    Well, no, it wasn’t. It was a very open question what we would do. The troops would still be fighting in Iraq if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won in 2008, AUMF or no.

  15. I see that even though Romney received a religious deferment from military service he is enthusiastic about sending other people’s children off to combat. Bush Jr at least went into the ANG, and Bush Sr was a fighter pilot. Even British royalty sent a son into combat. Romney is the leading example of a chicken hawk.

  16. I’m going to be less cynical than some — for once — and predict that this won’t help Romney. The voters do not want more wars.

  17. connect these dots
    .
    “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
    (James Madison)
    .
    “Russia is without question” the United States “number one geopolitical foe”
    (Mitt Romney, 26 March 2012)
    .
    “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers… America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers… This century must be an American century… In an American century, America leads the free world”
    (Mitt Romney, 7 October 2011)
    .
    “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”
    link to wired.com
    link to nytimes.com
    .
    NOTICE: Due to Presidential Executive action under the 2001 “Patriot” act, which, not requiring court approval, allows investigators to obtain confidential information from libraries, banks, credit card companies, credit bureaus, telephone companies and Internet service providers, leading to information such as, but not limited to, internet searches and pages viewed, medical and tax records, or information about the books you buy or borrow; the National Security Agency (NSA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have read this email without warning, warrant, or notice. They may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight.

  18. Reports of the death of the Obama campaign are a little exaggerated.

  19. Regarding the complaints of the Syrians that the West has forgotten them, it would be good for everyone in the world to remember this. People ought not to start revolutions expecting outside powers to come to their aid. Start an uprising when you have a plan and the means to see it through.

  20. So it sounds as though we have another aspiring ‘war president’. Not clear to me AT ALL how he figures to balance the budget AND fight these various wars — I guess he will take the war expenditures OFF BUDGET???? And, how does he figure to raise enough troops not just to fight initially, but to ensure security for the indefinite future??? Assuming he is planning AT ALL, he is surely planning to re-start the draft. i hope this time it will be a fair draft: i.e. his own grandchildren / children could be as likely to be called up as the college kid who lives next door to me.

    • Felicity, I’d be scared if Romney was president. All I have to do is look at his Massachusetts record. He didn’t care to meet w/ the legislators in his own state to get things done, so there is no reason for me to think he will care to get things done concerning foreign policy.

  21. 5 wars for his 5 patriotic sons. I’m sure they’ll all be willing to volunteer, just as their father did.

  22. Mr. Cole, You may be right about Mr. Romney’s wars, but I have a different theory on his comments. I believe he “runs plays” like a football coach. The first play is to say something that makes Obama look incompetent. The second play is designed to appease the far right by saying we are going to kick the world’s ass. The third play is to tell you the incremental moves he will make that will change everything.

    But the reality is, he will play it slow and carefully from the center with a lot of wisdom – sort of like Obama is playing it now. I am probably wrong, but I think they are both pragmatic intelligent men. Oh no, could I be the only one who thinks they are both intelligent moderates, and either one will serve us well.

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