Romney’s Brave New World

Romney delivered his ostensible foreign policy address this week. In a nutshell, here’s what he declared:

Mr. Romney, whose vision generally called for a strong and resolute America to lead the world, also outlined eight specific actions he would take in his first 100 days if elected president. These include strengthening naval power by increasing shipbuilding; improving relationships with the country’s close allies like Israel, Britain and Mexico; increasing deterrent measures to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; revisiting a missile-defense system; reviewing the country’s strategy in Afghanistan; and starting a campaign for economic opportunity in Latin America. (When he unveiled his economic plan in Nevada last month, he also offered the 10 actions he would take on his first day in the Oval Office).

Mr. Romney said he would use the “full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict.” Though much of the Republican field has yet to articulate their specific foreign policy views, Mr. Romney tried to differentiate himself from some candidates — as well as some members of the Republican Congress — who have advocated a more isolationist strain of foreign policy . . . In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world,” he said. “In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.”

Fortunately, one need not spend a great deal of time deconstructing the speech. For starters it’s from Romney and conveyed the conviction and steel of a teenager discovering pop music. Second, Romney himself is too smart to believe it. Part of private capital is show and puffery, but in the end it is ruthlessly empirical: do the numbers work? Romance is a no no. And the numbers simply don’t add up for any of Romney’s speech.

American Empire, Mitt Romney, Election 2012

It’s all very Gee Dub Bush. Anachronistic, old school. Pure positioning for the primary. Still, the practiced cynicism to deliver this speech on this scale is world class. One can understand why he was so personally disliked by the other candidates in 2008.

Even the domestic specifics of Romney’s speech, increasing DoD’s budget and adding an additional 100,000 to the Army are essentially non-starters in the real world of Washington, D.C. politics. (Smartly, the Marines are actively seeking to down size). Romney said in Afghanistan merely he would ‘listen’ to his generals.