Reader Z.S. flagged some interesting remarks Mitt Romney made in North Las Vegas the other day, which went largely overlooked.
As part of a speech in which the Republican reflected on individuals who “changed the world” by taking a stand, Romney mentioned Lech Walesa, Rosa Parks, Nicolae Ceausescu (in a rather awkward way), and the man who helped inspire the Arab Spring:
“Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke about that fellow in Tunisia who was told by a government bureaucrat that he couldn’t open up his fruit stand and took away his fruit stand wares, and he, in protest, committed suicide by self-immolation. And from that became a revolution throughout the Middle East that continues to roll.”
Is this an example of an individual who “changed the world” by taking a stand? Absolutely. I’m not sure, though, whether Romney thinks this is a positive development or not.
Consider this item from two weeks ago:
In his latest broadside against the incumbent’s foreign policy, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama for the Arab uprisings last year, arguing that he could have headed them off by pressing the region’s autocrats to reform first.
“President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda,” Mr. Romney told the newspaper Israel Hayom, referring to President George W. Bush’s democracy policy, “and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history in a more peaceful manner.”
Now, this line, in and of itself, was strange. The typical Republican argument doesn’t give Obama credit for the Arab Spring; it gives Bush/Cheney credit – it was the Republicans’ neocon adventure, the right argues, that led people to rise up throughout the Middle East to demand democratic freedoms.
But as of two weeks ago, Romney effectively said the right has it backwards – the Arab Spring is problematic, and it’s Obama’s fault. Except two weeks later, Romney seems to believe the opposite again, holding out the self-immolating Tunisian as a positive model for change.
Do you ever get the sense that maybe Romney hasn’t given foreign policy a lot of thought?