Mitt Romney returned to the U.S. yesterday after a week-long foreign excursion, which by any measure, didn’t go especially well. But before the focus shifts entirely, I have a confession to make: I’d assumed Romney would make a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
The schedule called for a three-country trip: U.K., Israel, and Poland, in that order. But given that Romney has no foreign policy experience, no background in military affairs, and no real credibility on anything related to national security, I figured he’d have to make an unannounced stop in Afghanistan – or at a minimum, to a U.S. military base somewhere in Europe.
In fact, I assumed Romney would stop in Afghanistan but had to keep the trip under wraps in advance due to security concerns, which would have been entirely understandable.
But he didn’t go. In fact, shortly before he departed, one of Romney’s policy advisors appeared on msnbc and said “real Americans” don’t want to talk about the war in Afghanistan anyway. It’s the longest war in American history, and three months before Election Day, no one seems to know exactly what Romney’s position is on U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
I’m reminded of an anecdote the Wall Street Journal recently published.
Mr. Romney made that clear at a July fundraiser in Montana as he rehashed the challenges Mr. Reagan faced when he took office. He recounted how Mr. Baker, a former secretary of state, held a national security meeting about Latin America during the first 100 days of Mr. Reagan’s presidency.
“And after the meeting, President Reagan called me in and said, ‘I want no more national-security meetings over the next 100 days – all of our time has to be focused on getting our economy going,’ ” Mr. Romney recalled Mr. Baker saying.
In reality, this exchange between Reagan and Baker never happened. I don’t know who told Romney this or whether Romney simply made it up out of whole cloth, but Reagan dealt with plenty of national-security meetings early in his presidency – as all presidents do.
Putting aside the merit of Romney’s vague ideas about government, does he fully understand the nature of the position he’s seeking?
Does he realize that a president, especially during a time of war, can’t simply choose which areas of interest will be important to him, and leave national security behind altogether?
If Romney takes the oath of office in January, he’ll have tens of thousands of American troops on the ground in Afghanistan, fighting a war that began so long ago, he was still a liberal Republican at the time. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what he intends to do with those troops and/or how long he intends to keep them there?