“What's not to like?” asked Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, a leading foreign policy hawk and backer of Bush’s war in Iraq, who called the speech “kinder, gentler neocon.”Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton:
“Kristol could have written it himself,” said Michael Goldfarb, an aide to Senator John McCain’s 2008 campaign who now chairs the conservative Center for American Freedom. “Strong on defense, strong on foreign involvement and aid, strong (and courageous) on Afghanistan and Iraq.
“For all the talk about fissures in the party — the [Project for a New American Century] guys are the ones who will be toasting the Republican candidate tonight,” he said, referring to a group that pushed in the 1990s for, among other things, an invasion of Iraq.
Mitt Romney understands that the best way to preserve international peace and security is for America to lead from the front.The rest of the world, not so much:
Much of Romney’s address focused on the complex threat posed by Iran, but he did not propose specific solutions that differ from the Obama administration’s current policy of tightening sanctions and insisting that an Iranian nuclear bomb is intolerable.
• Spencer Ackerman at Wired.com:
All this might be a smart play for Romney. The first debate stopped his slide in the polls. His speech might have the effect of reassuring voters that Romney won’t swerve wildly from a foreign policy they generally like. What might be galling for Obama is that he can fairly look at a lot of Romney’s speech and say: I built that.
• Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic:
One thing Romney could do as president to help secure Israel as a Jewish state is to have an honest conversation, as a friend, with the prime minister of Israel about the demographic, security and moral consequences of continued settlement and occupation of the West Bank. I can understand why he might not want to announce such a plan a month before the election, but a president who is trusted by the prime minister would be in a great position to have this very hard talk.• Ben Adler at The Nation:
“I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” said Romney. “I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have.” Well, that sounds tough, but it is precisely what Obama has done. So what else would Romney do? Escalate military tensions. “I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.” So, Romney pledges a costly and provocative expansion of the American empire. Why Iran would abandon its nuclear ambitions because of some aircraft carriers in the gulf is unclear.Michael Cohen at The Guardian:
In Mitt Romney's worldview—in so much as one can detect one—the key to American power lies in some amorphous notion of US leadership disconnected from the extraordinary challenges of actually conducting foreign policy. Talking about leadership and resolve is easy—doing it is the hard part.The Editors of The New York Times:
This explains, more than any other reason, why Romney's policy prescriptions are so vague and meaningless. It's the yawning chasm between what American power can actually achieve and what a politician seeking to be president says it ought to be doing.
One new element is Mr. Romney’s assertion that the threats have “grown worse.” He desperately wants to undercut the edge that voters have given Mr. Obama on foreign policy, even before he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden. But he offers no real evidence to back up that particular claim, and if it were true that the threats have been so much worse for so long, it’s odd that Mr. Romney hasn’t really talked about them before.The trouble with talking tough, especially when you don't know what you're talking about, is that once the talking doesn't achieve its ends, the next step typically spills blood.