The Zoellick Identity
It's been a week of trouble appeasing the Republican base for
Mitt Romney's campaign. On the
domestic front, a campaign spokesperson angered
conservatives by touting the former Massachusetts governor's record on
healthcare. On the foreign policy front, the
selection of former World Bank president Robert Zoellick as the campaign's national security transition chief
has enraged the party's neo-conservatives. "For foreign policy hawks, Zoellick
is an anathema," wrote
Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin.
Though Zoellick served as trade representative and deputy
secretary of state in the George W. Bush
administration, he's seen by many as a moderate who has been fairly
accommodating to China over the years. According to the Romney campaign, his
role will be confined to staffing. "Zoellick does NOT advise on policy," one
source on the campaign told Rubin. (FP's Daniel Drezner also
highlighted some of the factual inaccuracies in her post.)
Nonetheless, the pick is seen by some as indication that a
potential Romney White House might not have a foreign policy as hawkish as his
campaign stump speaches suggest. "It gives a more reliable indicator of what
Romney is thinking, which is not in line with all his rhetoric," James Mann, of
the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies told
the Financial Times.
Send in the general?
Matt Drudge threw
another curveball into the veep selection process this week with an item suggesting that
Romney might pick Gen. David Petraeus
as his running mate. Drudge quoted an unnamed Democratic fundraiser who
allegedly told the conservative news aggregator that President Barack Obama believes Romney will pick
While there are a number of reasons why the story is extremely
unlikely to be true, the Petraeus rumors highlight the fact that some of
the names on the
VP shortlist, such as Tim Pawlenty
and Paul Ryan are a bit light on
national security experience. Drudge was also the source of last month's Condoleezza Rice buzz. Perhaps he's
Running on autopilot
In an Aug. 6 Washington Post article, some of the
Romney campaign's dozens of outside foreign policy advisers complained that their
input is being ignored -- and that the candidate's "decisions are influenced by
a small coterie of mostly political aides."
"They have this theory of the campaign and have been on autopilot
with it and haven't adjusted. It's all about attacking Obama, when the bigger
job is to introduce himself," said one unnamed foreign policy expert, who also
complained that the heavy emphasis on Russia makes the campaign "look like Rip
Van Winkle and they think it's 1989."
Should there be more
foreign policy in the election?
Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson argued
in a column this week that the Obama administration's decision to continue many
of the Bush initiatives "has largely taken defense and foreign policy off the
table in the current election." But he warns that while "criticizing the slayer
of Osama bin Laden requires a more sophisticated critique than the presidential
campaign -- currently at the level of ‘Romney Hood' vs. ‘Obamaloney' -- will
bear," Romney can't afford to ignore the risks posed by Obama's "doctrine of
deferred decisions" on issues including Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan.
If he's lost Kristof...
Formerly a staunch Obama supporter, Times columnist Nicholas
Kristof appears to be losing faith the president. In June, he wrote
that seeing the devastation wrought by Omar
al-Bashir's government bombing in Sudan's Nuba mountains had left him "not
only embarrassed by my government's passivity but outraged by it." And in a
column this week, he declared Obama "AWOL" on Syria, writing, "I'm
generally a fan of Obama's foreign policy, but on Syria there's a growing puzzlement
around the world that he seems stuck behind the curve."
No foreign policy in
the ad war
This week saw a controversy over attack ads from both sides,
with Romney's campaign demanding
Obama denounce a super-PAC ad linking Romney to a woman's death from cancer
and the Obama team pushing back against an ad suggesting the president would
end work requirements for welfare. So far, however, there's been relatively
little on the airwaves about foreign-policy issues. The Obama campaign has produced
an ad touting the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the Republican
Jewish Coalition has run one attacking Obama's Israel policy, but there's
been relatively little compared with the slug-fest over the economy and social
The latest from FP:
In an interview
with FP, former Secretary of State James
Baker pushes back against the neoconservatives who have criticized the
Zoellick pick and defends his work on the Mideast peace process.
Joshua E. Keating noted some odd remarks from Romney on
Josh Rogin got
reaction from Japan scholars.
The Cable also
looked at some of the GOP foreign-policy hands jockeying
for positions in a potential Romney administration.
Michael A. Cohen looks
at the candidates' "budget-waving
contest" about defense spending and American power.
George Lakoff says
liberal pundits misunderstand "low
Sean Kay refutes
the analysts that claim that Obama's forgotten
Stephen Walt says
the similarities between Obama and Romney on foreign policy outweigh
Former governor Haley
Barbour invites overtaxed French millionaires to come and laissez les bon temps rouler in Mississippi.
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