Mitt Romney thinks Barack Obama is a terrible president. When Romney looks at Obama’s foreign policies, he sees a president who projects “passivity” in a dangerous world, as he argues in a big speech on Monday, leaving allies and enemies confused about where America stands. Which makes it curious that the policies Romney outlines in his speech differ, at most, superficially from Obama’s.
Zack Beauchamp finds overlap between Obama and Romney on Afghanistan, Syria, free trade, and Iran. Larison, on the other hand, tweets: "Not letting Iran have nuclear 'capability' is far more hawkish position than current policy." Phillip Klein notices the same thing:
Obama has repeatedly drawn the red line at Iran actually acquiring nuclear weapons themselves, as he did before the United Nations last month: “(T)hat’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” The line Romney drew is the one drawn by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because once Iran enriches enough uranium to have the “capability” to make nuclear weapons, it’s only a matter of taking a few remaining steps to manufacture weapons.
Drezner hits on the problem with Romney's foreign policy positions more generally:
If one pushes past the overheated rhetoric, then you discover that Romney wants a lot of the same ends as Barack Obama — a stable, peaceful and free Middle East, for example. But that's not shocking — any major party president will want the same ends. The differenes are in the means through which a president will achieve those ends. And — in op-ed after op-ed, in speech after speech – Romney either elides the means altogether, mentions means that the Obama administration is already using, or just says the word "resolve" a lot. That's insufficient.
McKay Coppins picks up on Romney's change in tone:
In his latest step toward the political center Monday, Mitt Romney used a foreign policy speech in Virginia to reiterate a tack he's appeared to settle on when it comes to describing President Obama's record: Romney's not mad, he's just disappointed.
John Hudson examines how Team Obama is spinning the speech:
In the run-up to today's speech, the Obama campaign launched "pre-emptive strike" consisting of a new TV ad and a memo by two former Obama national security advisers, Michele Flournoy and Colin Kahl, who say Romney's positions are way outside the mainstream “and often to the right of even George W. Bush.” They said his advisers' "with-us-or-against-us approach" has created "“some of the worst foreign policy failures in American history, including the Iraq War."
Uri Friedman also looks at the Obama response:
[I]f Romney's foreign-policy views have been incoherent, the Obama campaign's criticisms of Romney's positions have been no less perplexing. Simply put, team Obama can't seem to decide whether the president's challenger is the second coming of Barack Obama or George W. Bush — or a different beast entirely: a blundering buffoon or possibly an inveterate flip-flipper.
Josh Marshall, meanwhile, contrasts Romney's statement that he would "recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel" with his remarks in the Mother Jones videos - something Soledad O'Brien hammers Romney communications adviser Tara Wall with in the above video. Update from a reader:
Can Soledad O’Brien moderate the debates?