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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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The ’80s are back; Romney voters were warned

Paraphrasing Barack Obama from the campaign of 2012, a vote for Mitt Romney was a vote for the world as it was in the 1980s. Well. Nearly 48 percent of Americans cast ballots for the Republican nominee, and the Russian bear is once again on the move.

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Romney, too, has noticed, and, in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, delivered a scathing critique of the White House that targets, especially, defenders of the administration who claim America’s opportunities to influence, let alone dictate, global events was never particularly strong.

A subscription is required to read the whole thing, but here are a few pertinent paragraphs.

“Why are there no good choices? From Crimea to North Korea, from Syria to Egypt, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, America apparently has no good options. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, Russia owns Crimea and all we can do is sanction and disinvite – and wring our hands. ...

“Our tough talk about a red line in Syria prompted Vladimir Putin’s sleight of hand, leaving the chemicals and killings much as they were. We say Bashar Assad must go, but aligning with his al Qaeda-backed opposition is an unacceptable option.

“And how can it be that Iraq and Afghanistan each refused to sign the status-of-forces agreement with us – with the very nation that shed the blood of thousands of our bravest for them?

“Why, across the world, are America’s hands so tied?

In Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and during the Arab Spring, Romney writes, the United States had opportunities for bold and satisfying outcomes that would have promoted peace, stability and the framework of prosperity that turns rivals into allies and friends, but the Obama administration, while logging tens of thousands of air miles, failed to negotiate with forceful timeliness, frittering away America’s traditional strength, and leaving us with no good alternatives.

“Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity.

“President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.”

The shot across Hillary Clinton’s bow is purposeful and appropriate. We’re not yet past the 2014 midterm elections, but already 2016 looms large, and a fair amount of the electorate seems open to undoing its rejection of the former First Lady in 2008. Fine, but Romney’s jab is a reminder that we should tackle the task with eyes wide open; lots of the odorous foreign relations goo that’s on the hands of President Obama was put there by Madame Reset, the woman who would be his successor.

No one wanted to return to things as they were before the Berlin Wall crumbled, along with the Soviet Union, but that’s the path we’ve resumed, and it’s paved with wishful thinking and big box office-supply store gimmicks. America can and should do better.