The oppo research on Romney’s foreign policy

My, isn't this awkward. Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski stumbled across a copy of John McCain's 200-page opposition research file on Mitt Romney from the 2008 presidential campaign, which will now undoubtedly be pored over by President Barack Obama's campaign staff for useful nuggets to trip up Romney in the 2012 campaign.

The 20-page section of the oppo file lays the foundation for attacking Romney as a John Kerry-esque flip-flopper -- and one with fewer foreign policy chops. It accuses Romney of choosing his stands either because they proved politically expedient, or because he was woefully uninformed on the issues and simply stumbled into new positions.

As befits a document written in 2008, much of the research focuses on Romney's positions toward the Iraq war -- material unlikely to be of much use to the Obama campaign, given the conclusion of the war. But there is some grist in there for those who would paint Romney as a world-class waffler: In June 2007, for example, he answered a question about whether the Iraq war was a mistake by attacking the question as "a non-sequitur...or a null set" and an "unreasonable hypothetical."

But while Iraq has faded from the U.S. political agenda, concerns about what to do about Iran have only increased. In 2007, Romney said that a U.S. military attack on Iran is "not going to happen" -- perhaps that's a line we'll soon be seeing in a Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich commercial. There's also the issue of Romney's supposed business entanglements in the Islamic Republic: In 2002, Bain Capital, the company he co-founded, purchased a chemicals business SigmaKalon, which had an office in Tehran. But that seems to be a thin reed, as Romney had long ago left Bain at the time of the purchase, and was on the verge of being elected governor of Massachusetts.

Romney's gaffes make for some of the document's most entertaining reading. He seems to have a particularly difficult time connecting with Cuban-Americans: During one event in Miami, he repeated a phrase, "Fatherland or death, we shall overcome," which was the traditional sign-off of Fidel Castro's speeches. He also referred to rising GOP star Marco Rubio as "Mario" and echoed a line from the movie Scarface in a speech to Cuban-Americans during the same trip.

That's embarrassing, but not likely to do serious damage to the Romney machine. If Obama or Romney's GOP rivals are looking for a silver bullet, it's not going to be in his foreign-policy pronouncements.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images


Has Argentina launched a squid war

Over the weekend I had the chance to see the new Meryl Streep-as-Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, which had too little about politics and too much about the Thatchers' frankly not-that-interesting marriage for my taste, but did have one fantastic scene of Thatcher thoroughly eviscerating U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig in the run-up to the Falklands War.

This year will make the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War -- a conflict that today seems to belong to another geopolitical epoch entirely. But last week, as the Telegraph reports, we seem to have entered the history repeating itself as farce phase (standard British media caveats apply):

Argentina has reportedly started a "squid war" against the Falkland Islands, telling fishermen to catch the creatures before they reach the waters around the British territory.

Argentina reportedly hopes the orders will deal a blow to the Falkland Islands' fishing industry, which is worth up to £45 million a year – half of which comes from catches of Illex squid

Illex squid start their one-year lives off the River Plate, which marks the border of Argentina and Uruguay, in September and move southwards as they grow.

Argentina also recently persuaded the countries of Mercosur to block port access to ships flying the Falklands flag, though some countries have partially lifted the ban. 

The Guardian also has a useful rundown of other seafood-related maritime disputes.