Today, Willard M. Romney called for increased military spending on Navy shipbuilding and missile defense in a 23-minute foreign policy speech at the Citadel military academy in South Carolina. Romney offered zero criticism of American foreign policy under President George W. Bush and relentless criticism of foreign policy under President Obama.
“I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price in the future, not only in treasure, but in blood,” Romney promised the crowd. “We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s time has passed. That is utter nonsense.”
He added, “If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.”
A look at Mitt Romney’s 50-person Foreign Policy and National Security Advisory Team unveiled yesterday may explain why the Republican frontrunner hesitates to criticize foreign policy under the Bush administration. NBC’s Michael Isikoff noted that Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team includes 26 veterans of the Bush administration, including several who played key roles in some of its most contentious policies, including the war in Iraq, warrantless wiretapping, and the use of waterboarding against terror suspects.
Joe Conason summed it up well in the National Memo:
“Near the top of the Romney roster is Cofer Black, the former CIA official whose idea of ‘taking the gloves off’ after 9/11 led the United States government into systematic use of torture, rendition and other ‘dark side’ disgraces that helped ruin American prestige internationally (and failed to dispatch Osama bin Laden, Black’s primary responsibility that was only fulfilled long after he left government). Upon leaving the Bush administration, he took an executive position at Blackwater Associates, the infamous private army… What sort of advice Black provides to Romney isn’t clear, except that he urged that American politicians should never describe waterboarding as torture and thus besmirch the good name of the United States.”
Romney also tapped Robert Joseph, a former National Security Council official, and Dan Senor, who served as a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
Conason noted, “Joseph was implicated in the fakery about an Iraqi nuclear program that led to the Iraq invasion. Senor actively participated in misleading the public about the consequences of that blunder on a daily basis, as the mouthpiece for the disastrous post-Saddam administration set up by the White House under Paul Bremer.”
A spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign released a statement today in response to Romney’s speech:
“He didn’t outline a strategy to strengthen America’s security and promote our interests and didn’t even identify defeating al Qaeda as a goal. President Obama has degraded al Qaeda and dealt huge blows to its leadership, including eliminating Osama Bin Laden, ended the war in Iraq, promoted our security in Afghanistan while winding down our commitment in a responsible way and strengthened American leadership around the world.”
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.