At the most recent debate for the Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney wanted to show off his understanding of international affairs, and told the audience that Syria is Iran's "key ally" and Iranians' "route to the sea."
Iran, of course, has 1,520 miles of its own coastline -- and doesn't share a border with Syria. In trying to demonstrate his foreign policy acumen, most notably regarding Iran, Romney helped prove he hasn't even looked at a map of the region in a while.
And yet, the former governor continues to feign expertise on the subject matter. Today he has an op-ed in the Washington Post, calling for Iranian sanctions (which Obama has already imposed); backing Israel (which Obama has also already done); and shaping a U.S. policy towards Iran that's "the same as Ronald Reagan's."
Um, Mitt? The Reagan administration sold Iran weapons, in violation of an arms embargo, in order to help illegally finance the Contras in Nicaragua. Reagan also sought a check on Iranian power by cozying up to Saddam Hussein after he used chemical weapons against his own people.
A Romney administration's approach to Iran would be "the same as Ronald Reagan's"? Seriously?
Ed Kilgore was unimpressed.
If this all sounds a bit like foreign policy as it would be conducted by a seventeen-year-old boy with an addiction to energy drinks, that is almost certainly intentional. If the chronic liberal vice in foreign policy is excessive faith in international organizations, the chronic conservative vice is the belief that America must perpetually prove its willingness to kill instantly and remorselessly. Romney's handlers want to make sure conservatives are reassured he fully shares that vice.
For his part, President Obama responded to an NBC News question at a White House conference this morning that referenced Romney's criticism on Iran. Obama rejected "the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war," adding, "This is not a game -- and there's nothing casual about it."
The president went on to say, "If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so, and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk."
Mr. Romney, I think he was talking to you.