Mitt Romney appears to have all the foreign-policy savvy of someone who once visited Euro Disney, and it's freaking me out. Not to say that President Obama is any more knowledgeable on that front, but at least he seems aware of his limitations, outsourcing foreign leadership to the French, the Brits, Hillary Clinton and private contractors.
Never has the world been so interconnected, with power and influence becoming decentralized and regionalized. America's problems -- economic or otherwise -- can no longer be solved from inside America, nor can conventional wisdom and the traditional order of things be predictably relied upon. Britain saw an example of this recently when it lost an Indian fighter jet contract to its roomie, France, with whom Britain will even share warships because both are so broke. This letdown came after the UK spent about $443 million a year on aid to its former colony. The Indian finance minister qualified the assistance as "peanuts."
Yet here we have Romney highlighting the importance of reinstating U.K.-U.S. "special relationship" rhetoric as a "foundation for peace and liberty" in a foreign-policy white paper, apparently as a means of gaining some kind of strategic advantage in a world where ad-hoc allegiances are shifting on an as-needed basis more often than Romney's hairstyle.
Romney, according to his white paper, also feels coordination with Mexico is needed to curtail drug and border problems. He should send the invitation to "coordinate" in fancy calligraphy, and maybe that will work this time. Hopefully he means "lending" the U.S. Special Forces to Mexico for some "light janitorial duties," because best I can tell, that's the only kind of coordination that hasn't been tried on the problem.
Romney constantly refers to American "soft power" as a force of change in the world, and he says he would increase the role of local diplomats. Desk jockeys aren't "soft power" in today's world. Business and money is.
Ensuring "buy-in from Pakistani and Afghan governments" is Romney's whole strategy to defeat insurgency in Afghanistan, adding that, "We will only persuade Afghanistan and Pakistan to be resolute if they are convinced that the United States will itself be resolute." What, over a decade of American military sacrifice and billions in aid hasn't been convincing enough?
According to Romney, squeezing Iran with sanctions is supposed to be some sort of solution, when Iran can survive quite nicely under its current protectorate of China and Russia -- two countries that only benefit from increased trade and rapprochement when Western sanctions are imposed on one of their allies. Further, he wants to "improve the flow" of information about the Iranian government to its own people. I think they already know, Mitt. They already tried to do something about it in 2009, and many were killed for it.
Chinese domination is a concern for Romney, who "will implement a strategy that makes the path of regional hegemony for China far more costly than the alternative path of becoming a responsible partner in the international system." That clicking sound you hear is the Chinese government texting "SO FUNNY, MITT!" on their made-in-China iPhones.
Likewise, Romney hopes to curtail Russian authority by "implement(ing) a strategy that will seek to discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia and encourage democratic political and economic reform." He doesn't say precisely how he could possibly put Russia in that position. Presumably he's just going to ask nicely.
The threat of United Nations military intervention in Syria last week was mysteriously followed by Russia's Gazprom toying with the natural gas tap flowing into Europe at a time of record low temperatures and record high prices. Whack something on the head these days, and the headache pops up in a place where you might least expect it. If this Romney foreign-policy naiveté is the epitome of what America can expect from the top presidential challenger, we're in a lot more trouble than we might realize.