Gov. Romney’s recent foreign policy speech at Virginia Military Institute was vintage George W. Bush (also known and the “President-never-to-be-mentioned-again-by-any-Republican-official”). Romney stated that he would work with our “partners” to identify and organize Syrian rebels who share are “values” and then arm them. Perhaps Ahmed Chalabi could help him identify these rebels with our values. Remember him? He and his fellow expatriate, Armani-wearing, English-speaking Iraqi pals convinced W. that they held the key to overthrowing Saddam and establishing a government with our “values” (i.e. democracy and capitalism). Alas, it turned out that Chalabi had little support and lots of enemies in Iraq. Oops, Bush missed that little glitch and we ended up in a protracted, bloody, expensive war.
The Syrian uprising makes Iraq look simple. The myriad ethnic, religious and social tensions render the Syrian conflict opaque to outsiders and foreign policy amateurs like Romney. Does anybody really think that giving arms to one faction is going to serve America’s interests? What if the faction we support loses? Even worse, what if it wins and purges its enemies in the other factions with our weapons — like is happening in Lybia right now? Romney’s simplistic, “get tough” statements may play well with the electorate, but only reasoned, specific, multinational diplomatic solutions have any chance of success.
Obama entered office with a different agenda but with the the same bravado that poisoned Bush’s policy. He was going to end the Bush wars and close Guantanamo right away. Remember how that worked out? I have to give Obama credit though. While Bush held on to his arrogant foreign policy to the bitter end, a chastened Obama realized by year three of his term that America cannot single-handedly control the internal affairs of the Middle East without committing an unsustainable amount of money and lives to the mission. If he wins, Romney needs to learn this humility much sooner.
Francis J. Lynch