Op-Ed: Mitt Romney and foreign policy: Jingoism and gaffes abound

Posted Aug 14, 2012 by Marcus Hondro
After his abject failures as a emissary of the U.S. in both the U.K. and in Israel last month, one might think Mitt Romney would seek to learn a more about conducting foreign policy. But instead he continues to hit talking points that border on jingoism.
Mitt Romney with Paul Ryan
Mitt Romney with Paul Ryan
Romney, like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachman, and a host of Republicans, can hardy utter a sentence at a campaign stop without a claim that the U.S. is the greatest country on the earth, ever, bar none. It's meaningless prattle, meant to engage the frothing crowds he draws, crowds chock full of supporters who are so terrified of the world beyond American borders that they need some reassurance they're "the greatest!"
Here's a relevant clip from an new HBO series upcoming:
Mitt Romney: Master of foreign disasters?
Now foreign governments do not care so much about Republicans, or Democrats, saying they're the best, that the U.S. is the number one nation on earth, it' subjective and silly and they know it's what some politicians will do to toady up to voters. No, it's trashing their Olympics or suggesting their culture is inferior, as Romney did to the U.K. and the Palestinians on his first visit overseas as the nominee for the presidency, that tends to get them mad.
Did he learn? Not so much. Here he goes in his speech Monday while campaigning in Florida, a state he needs to win so he's pulling out all the boasting stops. He hit the talking point of the greatest right at the top of this speech Monday and he made sure to bring up the Olympics - "hooray, we won" - before getting into trashing another country.
"This is still the greatest nation on Earth," he began. "I know there are people around the world who are always critical of America, have something negative to say, say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney. We just won more Olympic medals than any other nation on Earth. You also just saw we just landed on Mars and took a good look at what's going on there.
"And I know the Chinese are planning on going to the moon, and I hope they have a good experience doing that. And I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago."
Foreign Policy gaffe from Romney
There are reasons to criticize China, real reasons - humans rights springs to mind, no? - and he has done that in the past, and in appropriate manners, but to mock is never dignified and the nonsense about a flag on the moon was neither productive nor meaningful. Arguably there is no real harm in it, or if there is it can be undone, but he shows little sign of knowing how to speak of other countries. China, along with the U.K. and the Palestinians, have likely already placed Romney in the not-so-smart category and they won't be the only countries to do so.
If he wants to be a part of America improving itself, of becoming a truly great nation that gives her citizens the chance to reach their potential and contributes positively to the world, inspiring other nations in areas beyond art and sport, he doesn't appear to be the kind of man that will help get them there, certainly boasting won't work.
To date he's showing that foreign policy, along with releasing tax returns, is not a strong suit. Getting GOP crowds to feel better in a scary world? That Mitt Romney can do.