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April 26, 2012

Romney Foreign Policy and the "Resolve Fairy"
Posted by David Shorr

103011krugman2-blog480To hear the Romney campaign tell it, via a Rich Williamson column this morning over at ForeignPolicy.com, the recent failed satellite launch by North Korea is evidence of President Obama's Carteresque foreign policy failure. From reading Williamson's dire warnings, I can only conclude that the Romney camp is counting on the rest of us to disconnect all our critical faculties. 

For one thing, in both foreign policy and the economy, it's not like we haven't tried it their way. So when Williamson calls Pyongyang's (failure to) launch a satellite into space a devastating "sucker punch," one has to ask how it compares to North Korea building and testing their first nuclear weapons on the Republicans' watch? 

And let's parse the supposed disaster more closely. The attempted launch nullified the Obama administration's recent deal with North Korea, under which they would suspend any missile or nuclear warhead tests and receive food aid in return. Clearly the North Koreans reneged, so the deal is off. And this is President Obama's failure because...? Because he shouln't have pursued a halt to North Korean tests? 

As I said in a recent post, Republicans' foreign policy arguments come in two flavors: 

First, there are the bald assertions that a Republicans' vague aura of toughness would whip the rest of the world into line ... Second are the genuine policy differences between President Obama and Governor Romney, and those splits involve either starting new wars (Iran) or staying mired in old ones (Iraq, Afghanistan). So there it is, the supposed magical powers of Republican bluster or war.

With that in mind, here's Rich Williamson's indictment of the president's policy toward Iran:

President Obama's lack of resolute action and the absence of demonstrable results make hollow his declaration that a nuclear-armed Iran is "unacceptable." The path he has set us on leads to a nuclear-armed Iran. 

Which again begs the same question about President Bush's record: would you please remind us of your great success in halting Iran's nuclear program (that's IraN with an 'N', not Iraq)?  Because I can't recall any. Nor does Rich's article outline a policy alternative with any substance or specifics. Meanwhile, anyone paying the slightest attention can see that President Obama has managed to subject Iran to harsher sanctions and stronger international pressure than ever before. 

A last thought on that (completely unspecified) "resolute action" and Republicans' magical foreign policy powers. Also an explanation of the lovely trick-or-treater pictured above. With her holy Ayn Rand text and magic wand, she is of course the Confidence Fairy that Paul Krugman writes about regularly. Given the similar magical thinking at work in GOP foreign policy, it's only proper that we identify the Confidence Fairy's twin sister: The Resolve Fairy.

They both work exactly the same way. A business-friendly (read business-dictated) climate will summon the Confidence Fairy of markets and a wonderful world of full employment. Likewise, grand expressions of toughness and moral clarity bring forth the Resolve Fairy and the capitulation of rogue regimes. 

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