Mitt Romney’s speech at VMI on foreign policy has been widely condemned as vague and lacking in substance, sort of like the man who gave it. But the speech is also full of suggestions and criticisms of the Obama administration that are simply not realistic. The speech is Romney’s “Mission Impossible,” only without the cool theme music and also without a prayer of being actually achievable short of launching a series of 5 wars. I’ve decided that my initial assumption that a businessman of Romney’s experience must know something about the world was dead wrong. Apparently it is possible to sit in cushy big offices in companies like Bain, and to remain completely ignorant of foreign affairs. Romney’s speeches are all just a replaying for us of the prejudices of CEOs when they play golf together and complain vaguely about the Chinese, Russians, Arabs, and so forth. Or, maybe Romney has gotten so many campaign contributions from arms manufacturers that he can’t help see foreign affairs through the lens of new wars he wants to fight.
1. The First War: Return to Iraq
Romney wants to send US troops back into Iraq and complained again about Obama’s “abrupt” withdrawal from that country. I don’t know how many ways there are of saying this, but it was from the beginning absolutely impossible for US troops to remain in Iraq legally. Romney apparently let Dan Senor, Bremer’s Neocon spokesman who came out to lie to us every day in Baghdad, write the following paragraph:
: “In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran. And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence. The President tried—and failed—to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.”
Romney’s premise, that the US military in Iraq had some sort of ‘achievement’ that is in danger of being lost now that it is out of the country is ridiculous. The United States launched an illegal war of aggression on Iraq that virtually destroyed the country and kicked off a power vacuum that eventuated in a civil war that still continues at a low level. In 2006 when there were over 150,000 US troops in Iraq, in some months the death toll from political violence was 2500. That doesn’t even count all the armed Iraqis the US military was killing. The United States military never controlled Iraq and could never prevent bombings and attacks. When the US troops stopped patrolling major cities, the death toll promptly fell, because guerrillas were no longer setting improvised explosive devices to hit US convoys– operations that often wounded Iraqi by-standers as well.
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