The US shouldn’t have ignored Mitt Romney’s comments on Russia
Considering the huge implications and loss of human life that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused, it is hard for me to not look back at the 2012 US presidential election.
Before I move forward, I want to make two things very clear.
Firstly, just because I say that the US shouldn’t have ignored Mitt Romney’s comments (I’ll get into it shortly), doesn’t mean I support the kind of invasive imperialist military actions that the US has, and is continuing across the world. I am no fan of how the US has meddled with the middle east, playing games as it sees fit.
The western superpower along with its European allies like the UK are single-handedly responsible for the conflicts in the middle-east, and Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.
Secondly, I also want to make it clear that I don’t agree with Mitt Romney on nearly anything with regards to economic policy and other social policies (maybe there is little common ground). But this post is only about one specific stand that Mitt Romney took.
So, let’s get back to the 2012 US presidential elections.
It is important to note that back in 2012, Obama was gaining immense popularity after the US military killed Osama Bin-Laden under Obama’s direct orders. The rise of ISIS during the same period, and the negative image that Syria’s president Assad had among the US public gave Obama’s campaign a huge incentive to continue focusing on the problems in the middle east. Also, it is important note that in 2012, Russia hadn’t invaded any nation.
Considering the impact that the Republican tea-party movement had in 2010 midterm elections, Obama’s campaign had already decided to capitalize the huge momentum that Obama got after the killing of Osama Bin-Laden. To allow any distraction on that front would have been a problem for Obama’s campaign to control the narrative.
One of the biggest debates between Mitt Romney (Republican candidate for President) and Barack Obama back in 2012 was on who is the biggest threat to the United States and the post World War II order that the US is keen on retaining.
Mitt Romney pointed out that Russia is the biggest threat. His exact words were, “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”. Obama at that time was focused more on the crises in the Middle East, notably Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban.
Anti-soviet sentiment had almost faded by that time too, and the younger voters read about the cold war only through history books, and didn’t consider Russia as a threat or a geopolitical strong house. That’s why when Obama made the statement mocking Romney by saying, “The 80s called and we didn’t answer”, many political pundits sided with Obama on foreign policy.
Obama’s push worked. Mitt Romney was already being tagged as a “out of touch” politician with regards to his economic policy, and his inability to connect with the problems that the average US citizen was facing. And even worse, Mitt Romney was mocked for it. Obama tagging Mitt Romney as “out of touch” when it comes to foreign policy worked easily too.
Also, during Obama’s first term, the narrative that a post cold war US-Russia relations were possible, got good traction. I was born almost a decade after the Soviet Union split. I used to believe that it was possible.
It is also important to understand where Mitt Romney’s positions came from. Mitt Romney’s justification was that every time the US went to the UN regarding nuclear Iran and North Korea, Russia had sided with both Iran and North Korea. Mitt Romney’s argument is that Russia is supporting genocidal leaders like Assad and Russia’s actions that thwarted any action on a nuclear North Korea or Iran is an indication that Russia is a major geopolitical foe for US’s global ambitions.
The invasion of Georgia by Russia in 2008 was also strong reason for Mitt Romney to stand on.
Anyways, during the elections, people agreed with Obama more than Mitt Romney when it came to foreign policy. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State in Bill Clinton’s administration publicly mocked Romney multiple times for calling Russia the number one geopolitical threat along with China.
In 2012, Obama won the election. Just two years later, Russia invaded Crimea, a part of Ukraine. In 2016, Russian bots had intervened in the public opinion of US presidential candidates. Assad’s genocidal programs gained even more pace with Russian support.
Donald Trump’s “America First” push didn’t help either. Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The promised military aid to Ukraine approved by the US congress were often delayed or freezed, and sometimes reduced heavily by Trump’s administration. We are watching Trump praising Putin for the way he swiftly invaded Ukraine.
Now, Russia has invaded Ukraine. No matter what your favorite media publication says, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a full scale war.
Just a few days ago, Madeleine Albright publicly apologized to Mitt Romney for not taking his judgement seriously. She said that she had underestimated and the US did actually spend less on Russian intelligence. So did David Axelrod, former senior advisor to Obama.
Mitt Romney was right about both Russia and China. Whether you like US’s foreign policy or not, the US along with its European allies, could have stayed hard on Russian aggression and could have helped Ukraine in defending itself from Russian aggression.