Commentary — The New York Times has posted an opinion piece about Mitt Romney’s foreign policy prowess (or pointed lack thereof) and the paper pulls no punches in pointing out that while Romney may have business clout, he lacks a certain knowledge of the world outside the American sphere, a circumstance that could come back and bite us rather hard and quickly, if the past few months are any barometer.
Mitt Romney’s ability to interface with international leaders was tested on a very, very small and basic scale when he went over to watch his wife’s horse dance in the Olympics. Having thrown an Olympics himself just a few years back in Salt Lake City, one would think given that England is our A-1 worldwide besties and Mitt “gets” the whole Olympic thing, this would have been a hand-shaking, tea-drinking piece of cake when it came to diplomacy.
We all know what happens next — Romney managed to step in it numerous times, insulted a few leaders, the city of London and their Olympic planning committee and even made a remark many felt was thinly-veiled racism when he said that President Barack Obama doesn’t understand America’s “anglo-saxon heritage,” nudge nudge wink wink.
In a column worth a read, the Times‘ Nicholas D. Kristof explains that diplomacy in Britain is amateur hour, the easiest of not screwing up international relations royally:
“The essential problem is that every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things. He went on a friendly trip to Britain — the easiest possible test for a candidate, akin to rolling off a log — and endeared himself by questioning London’s readiness to host the Olympic Games. In the resulting firestorm, one newspaper, The Sun, denounced ‘Mitt the Twit.’”
“(Imagine a President Romney making a London trip and helpfully offering off-the-cuff advice on Northern Ireland, or breaking the ice in Parliament by telling jokes about Queen Elizabeth. The War of 1812 would resume, and the British would again be burning down the White House.)”
History burn. Romney went on to continental Europe, where he was met in the streets with chants of “Obama, Obama!” before heading of to Israel, because of course we want the guy who says our oldest and staunchest allies don’t make anything anyone wants to buy heading over to perhaps the touchiest region on Planet Earth.
And Romney didn’t disappoint in disappointing, Kristof recounts:
“Then there was the Romney trip to Israel, where he insulted Palestinians and left some Jews uncomfortable with stereotyping by praising Jewish culture in the context of making money. Hmm … After that trip, you’d have thought that on foreign policy, Romney might remember the adage: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt … Yet with the Middle East exploding in recent days because of a video insulting the Prophet Muhammad, Romney dived in with a statement that hit a trifecta: it was erroneous, inflammatory and offensive.”
To insult both Israel and Palestine in the same trip is almost level 99 bungling, and Kristof raises some excellent points about Romney’s ability to interface with other countries as the election approaches. Do you think a Romney presidency would have deleterious effects on America’s world standing?