DNC - If at First You Look Ignorant...

Mitt Romney is at it again – playing foreign policy expert without a license with an Op-Ed in opposition to the new START treaty (http://bit.ly/fmr4bv) even though his last effort in this regard was widely ridiculed as “ignorant,” “shabby,” and “uninformed.”  Well, if at first you look ignorant…

FLASHBACK: Mitt Romney's Previous Op-Ed On START Was Slammed By Republicans, Foreign Policy Experts

Lugar Slammed Romney’s Op-Ed On START “In An Unusually Harsh Statement” Calling It “Hyperbolic” Rhetoric That “Repeated Discredited Objections” And Claimed Romney “Appears Unaware Of Arms Control History And Context.” “Senator Richard G. Lugar, one of the Republican Party’s senior voices on foreign affairs, fired back Thursday at Mitt Romney over his opposition to the new nuclear treaty with Russia, accusing Mr. Romney of ‘hyperbolic’ rhetoric that is divorced from the reality of arms control. In an unusually harsh statement, Mr. Lugar said Mr. Romney ‘repeated discredited objections’ to the treaty and “appears unaware of arms control history and context.’ The senator said rejecting the treaty, as Mr. Romney has urged, would mean giving up any human monitoring of Russia’s nuclear arsenal and guarantee no follow-up agreement to further limit nuclear weapons. ‘Governor Romney offers additional misreadings and myths that have been refuted explicitly in Congressional hearings,’ said Mr. Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Among other things, Mr. Lugar said the treaty imposes no restriction on current American plans for missile defense and has the support of prominent Republican national security leaders like former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger.” [New York Times, 7/8/10]

Sam Nunn: Romney’s START Op-Ed Was Neither “Accurate Or Relevant” And Should Be Captioned “I’d Rather Run For President Than Learn About National Security.” “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in an op-ed published in Tuesday’s Washington Post, called the New-START treaty Obama’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet” and urged the Senate to reject the agreement. ‘New-START gives Russia a massive nuclear weapon advantage over the United States,’ Romney wrote. ‘By all indications, the Obama administration has been badly out-negotiated.’  Romney’s op-ed was quickly criticized by fellow Massachusetts politician Sen. John Kerry and even fellow Republican Sen. Lugar of Indiana. Nunn also dismissed Romney’s logic. ‘I didn’t see a single reference in the Romney article ... to catastrophic terrorism, I didn’t see a single reference to U.S.-Russia cooperation required to keep materials out of the hands of terrorists,’ Nunn said. ‘It could be captioned: ‘I’d rather run for President than learn about national security.’ Very little in that article was either accurate or relevant.’” [Macon Sun News, 7/12/10]

Fred Kaplan: Romney’s Attack On START Treaty Is “Shabby, Misleading” And “Thoroughly Ignorant.” Fred Kaplan wrote, “In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and—let’s not mince words—thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney’s attack on the New START treaty in the July 6 Washington Post. Senate Republicans are looking for some grounds—any grounds—to defeat this treaty, which was signed in April by President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, and which will soon come to the Senate floor for a vote. Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, clearly feels the need to pump up some foreign-policy swagger in advance of the 2012 presidential primaries. But one would think he could have found a ghostwriter who had even the vaguest acquaintance with the subject matter.” [Slate, 7/7/10]

American Conservative Magazine: Romney’s Op-Ed In Opposition To The START Treaty “Shows That He Has No Idea What He’s Talking About.” Daniel Larison in the American Conservative wrote about Romney’s op-ed against the START treaty, “So Romney grossly exaggerates the Russian advantage in deployed tactical nuclear weapons, misrepresents the treaty’s implications for tactical nuclear weapons, and generally shows that he has no idea what he’s talking about. In the last presidential cycle, Romney decided that he had to stake out a zealous social conservative position to neutralize criticism of his earlier social liberalism and to give him some credibility with the activists and voters whose support he needed to win the nomination. For the next cycle, Romney apparently decided some time ago that attempting to out-hawk the administration and any potential Republican rivals and pretending that he knew something about foreign policy were the keys to winning in 2012. At some point during the last year and a half, Romney decided that his next presidential bid required him to jump into the deep end of American nationalism and become a champion of American exceptionalism against the ostensibly post-American worldview of Obama. This has involved embarrassing himself by showing how poorly he understands the subject he has chosen to make one of the main themes of his future campaign, and he has just done it again. This is the sort of thing that activists will cheer, which is unfortunate, because it is also the sort of thing that tells us why Romney should never be President.” [Larison, American Conservative Magazine, 7/6/10]

Time: “Foreign Policy Neophyte” Romney Approached START Like A “Cold War Hawk.” “Yesterday I wrote about the sharp conservatism of Mitt Romney’s attack on Barack Obama’s START treaty with the Russians. Romney approaches the treaty’s fine print with the attitude of a Cold War hawk, i.e. that the Russians are nefarious enemies who should be treated with extreme mistrust. To Romney, every ambiguity in the treaty’s fine print should be interpreted as a Russian advantage and a humiliating concession by team Obama. As I noted before, for a foreign policy neophyte Romney is rather boldly defying the views of several Republican wise men, including among others George W. Bush’s last national security advisor (and Dick Cheney protege) Steve Hadley, as well as Bush’s last (and Obama’s current) defense secretary, Robert Gates, a man who so distrusted the Soviets in the 1980s that he dismissed Gorbachev and perestroika.” [Swampland, Time, 7/8/10]

CBS: Romney Criticized The START Treaty Since Russia Could Opt-Out Even Though “The Same Privilege Is Granted To The United States, And Such Stipulations Are Common In Most Treaty Agreements.”  “Among his concerns was the clause that would allow Russia to withdraw from the treaty in the event the U.S. expands its missile defense systems. ‘Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability,’ Romney wrote. ‘Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion.’ However, as the New York Times reports, the same privilege is granted to the United States, and such stipulations are common in most treaty agreements.” [CBS News, 7/6/10]

New York Times: Romney’s Opposition To The START Treaty Is “Uninformed Posturing.”  Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times, “And despite Mitt Romney’s uninformed posturing against the treaty, Republicans with the most knowledge of American defense strategy, led by Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, say the new pact would continue the works of Presidents Reagan and Bush the elder to deescalate cold war tensions while upgrading overall deterrent strategy.” [Egan, New York Times, 7/14/10]


Esquire On Romney’s START Op-Ed: “It Is Impossible To Remember An Op-Ed Piece From A Major Political Figure That Has Been So Roundly Mocked As This One Has Been.”  “It is impossible to remember an op-ed piece from a major political figure that has been so roundly mocked as this one has been. It is impossible to remember a political figure who has been so roundly mocked for having attached his name to an op-ed piece. The final deathblow was struck by none other than Richard Lugar, the white-haired Ent who has been representing Indiana in the Senate since shortly after George Rogers Clark beat feet out of Indianapolis.” [Esquire, 7/13/10]

Ambinder: Romney’s Op-Ed Opposing START Was “Torn To Shreds The Next Day By The Washington Consensus” As Romney Prefers “A Radical Approach.” “A few weeks ago, Mitt Romney drew a circle in the sand and stood inside of it, declaring his opposition to the START treaty on the grounds that it jeopardized national security and conceded too much to Russia. The op-ed was torn to shreds the next day by the Washington consensus, which very much supports a bilateral, mutually beneficial approach to arms control, an approach that was President Reagan’s greatest legacy to the world. A few days ago, Romney all but announced that he disagreed with the consensus entirely.  Twenty plus years of nuclear diplomacy is not in his consciousness. He wants an entirely new approach, a radical approach that marks a return to a world that dissolved twenty years ago but is still alive intellectually, in some circles.” [Ambinder, The Atlantic, 7/28/10]

Arms Control Wonk:  Romney’s Assertion That START Limits Missile Defense “Is Utterly False.” “Romney & Co. also assert that New START limits missile defenses. This charge is utterly false. Missile defense constraints are no longer imposed by treaty, as was the case during the Reagan era.” [Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk, 7/28/10]