Romney's blunder 

Foreign policy is not supposed to decide presidential elections and Mitt Romney makes a fatal mistake if he is serious about testing that theory.

But that seems to be exactly his intent, to make it clear that he will not coddle Iran or pacify extremists across the Middle East even if that stance leads inevitably to war. Foreign policy is the one area where President Obama's poll numbers look unassailably high, but Romney sees the immense unrest and tension in the Middle East as opportune ground. He misreads things rather badly by giving voters a choice between war and peace — that is, if large numbers begin to comprehend the choice.

Although he backtracked a little by suggesting that his "red line" on Iran's nuclear weaponry was the same as President Obama's, Romney made it clear that his policy would be whatever the prime minister of Israel says American policy should be. He condemned the president for not assuring Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran that anytime, starting now, that the prime minister wants to bomb Iran the United States, no questions asked, will be squarely with him, supplying intelligence if not weaponry and men.

President Obama has not ruled out supporting an Israeli strike at Iranian nuclear facilities or ordering such a strike himself, but he won't issue an ultimatum. Polls show that a big majority of Americans do not support U.S. bombing or an Israeli attack if it leads to U.S. involvement, but that is Obama's policy, which counts on diplomacy and international pressure to divert us from that path.

Bombing Iran to prevent its development of a nuclear weapon may be a good idea or a bad one, but there ought to be no question about whether it is a good or bad idea to place our policy and destiny in the hands of a foreign leader, even an ally like Israel. It's a bad idea, and most Americans think so.

Romney, of course, is playing for the Jewish vote and everyone, including Netanyahu, understands that. That may be why Netanyahu is going to such lengths to force Obama to take a rigid stand and perhaps to even attack before the election. After the election, his leverage slackens, even if he succeeds in electing Romney.

Foreign policy has indeed decided only a few elections. Ronald Reagan's defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George W. Bush's re-election in 2004 are the lessons that Romney must have digested.

The Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis and a dismal military rescue effort, along with the oil embargo and the huge price shock, sent inflation to 14 percent in 1980 and left Carter looking helpless. Iran kept the hostages until Reagan was elected and then was rewarded by the new president. When the Iranians captured a few more Americans, Reagan collaborated secretly with Israel to ship arms to Iran for its war with Iraq in violation of the embargo enacted by Congress and then destroyed documents about the illegal arms sale to thwart congressional investigators. Can you make Obama look similarly weak? (Like Carter, not Reagan.)

Bush provides a better lesson, though probably not Romney's version of it. Voters in 2004 were just beginning to realize that Bush and Cheney had lied to take them to war with Iraq, but the patriotic fervor of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq was still just enough to re-elect Bush over a Vietnam War hero they were told was a secret coward and faked his combat wounds.

The recurring anti-American outbursts across the region are the harvests of those policies — and of Obama's mistaken campaign promise of 2008 to ratchet up the Afghanistan war until there was a better outcome. Every night Obama must lament setting the timetable for leaving so far off — the end of 2014.

Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly want us to leave Afghanistan, where attacks on U.S. soldiers continue and rage against the United States grows with every bombed civilian, and that a full 70 percent strongly oppose a U.S. attack on Iran. Sixty percent oppose going to Israel's side if it attacks Iran unilaterally.

But what do they know? Tea partiers and Bibi Netanyahu have a better handle.

Romney has signaled that the neocons who carried the day with Bush are back in charge. Romney dispelled the idea that he might engage in diplomacy in the Middle East or anywhere else. In "the American century," he said the other day, the United States under President Romney will always lead, never follow.

Remember that the Project for the New American Century was the manifesto of the neocon architects of the Iraqi war before the 2000 election — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and others. In the new century, the United States should project its power across the Middle East and Southeast Asia by conquering a bad but centralized Muslim country, preferably Iraq, and installing a democratic government allied with America, and project its influence from there.

We learned in the last month that early in 2001 the White House ignored not one but repeated intelligence reports of an impending terrorist attack on the United States. Someone, presumably Cheney and Rumsfeld, insisted that they were intended to distract the president from the real enemy, Saddam Hussein in Iraq. So we had 9/11 before Cheney persuaded Bush to forget it and get on to the real job of projecting the New American Century.

Most people know how that turned out for the U.S., but Romney seems not to.


Speaking of Mitt Romney


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Tax 'relief'

    Stormy Daniels, North Korea and malicious Russians all belong on the back burner. The big political game to watch, because it moves the odds at this year's national elections and affects your wallet, is still the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Republicans passed in December.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Gun history

    It all seems so urgent yet so pointless, this umpteenth national catharsis over gun slaughter: children and parents wailing for action by Congress and legislatures, followed by hesitant and often laughable ideas from the president and others about how to stop it.
    • Mar 1, 2018
  • Conley's plea

    Even with his facial stubble, Garrard Conley looks and acts like a diffident teenager, not a 33-year-old man who is a leading exponent of the "gay agenda," as right-wingers refer to the movement to gain equal treatment for sexual minorities.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Deja vu re Trump

    For a couple of million Arkansawyers, this fabulous circus of Russians, Trump, Mueller and Stormy is approaching deja vu.

    • Mar 22, 2018
  • Tax 'relief'

    Stormy Daniels, North Korea and malicious Russians all belong on the back burner. The big political game to watch, because it moves the odds at this year's national elections and affects your wallet, is still the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Republicans passed in December.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • WWJD?

    Jesus found something blessed about poor people, even promising them the kingdom of God, and he was always admonishing his disciples to feed and tend to them when they were sick. He reviled the rich and the uncharitable.
    • Mar 8, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Hitting students

    A friend once joked that I love Arkansas so much that if they ever cut me open, they'll find an Arkansas-shaped heart beating inside my chest. It's true. But just as the state was beginning to show off her spring beauty last week, I was reminded of what a dark and imperfect place Arkansas can be.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Hitting students

    • Well said.

    • on March 24, 2018
  • Re: Hitting students

    • Well written piece. AR family-serving professional organizations such as teachers, pediatricians, and mental health organizations…

    • on March 22, 2018
  • Re: Silence is golden

    • Spot on. In an election where 6 points is a landslide politicians cannot dismiss any…

    • on March 22, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation