It’s not an unusual thing for former Presidential candidates to write op/eds or be involved in political life after failing to achieve the highest office in the land. In that sense, Mitt Romney is no different. The former Massachusetts Governor and Republican nominee for President wrote back in February about how the Olympics are too damned expensive and how every country seems to spend themselves into poverty trying to have the best Olympics ever. He makes good points.
However, the op/ed that Mr. Romney published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal strikes a distinctly different tone.
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.
Iran is following North Korea’s nuclear path, but it seems that we can only entreat Iran to sign the same kind of agreement North Korea once signed, undoubtedly with the same result.
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?
Love him or hate him or somewhere in between, Romney’s always been fairly conciliatory. He’s not been one to shriek or yell or stomp his feet so the assertive style is a bit surprising. To be clear, Romney is saying that it’s lack of global leadership on the part of both President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that has produced the unwieldy world we currently seem to be living in.
A large part of the answer is our leader’s terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, “a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
He says that Obama has been late on everything, that he’s a reactionary and not a planner, that he’s unable to plan ahead and turn the situation to his advantage. He also implies that Obama has “analysis paralysis,” something he’s been accused of before, and he ends in the following way.
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.
A chastened president and Secretary of State Kerry, a year into his job, can yet succeed, and for the country’s sake, must succeed. Timing is of the essence.
What do you think, is this fair or is it 20/20 hindsight analysis, or simply sour grapes?