Note February 2016. These were done for the Russia Profile Weekly Experts’ Panel which I cannot find on the Net now. Many were picked up by other sources and I have given links where I can find them. Can’t find a link for this. Question presumably was to comment on Romney’s statement.
Is Russia really the “number one geopolitical foe” of the United States? Of course it isn’t and it is quite absurd that anyone should be saying so after 911. Indeed, if we look at Romney’s charge sheet against Russia – “Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has fought us with [by?] crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran” – obviously he doesn’t believe it either: he thinks Iran and Syria are greater “foes” and that Russia is only an obstacle on the road to the happy future that beckons when unpleasant “foes” are overthrown. And, when challenged by the CNN interviewer, he backed down: “The greatest threat the US faces is a nuclear Iran”.
We are left in confusion: which is the “number one foe”? Or is there some mystical hierarchy in which Iran is a “threat” and Russia merely a “foe”? Ridiculous.
In other remarks it is apparent that Romney has absorbed all the memes about Russia that have been pounded in by incompetent reporting and lobbyists. At the Citadel in October he said “Russia is at a historic crossroads. Vladimir Putin has called the breakup of the Soviet empire the great tragedy of the 20th Century. Will he try to reverse that tragedy and bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its energy resources?” Well, Putin didn’t say it was the great tragedy; the Russian is very clear: not the superlative form at all. But the misquotation has been re-typed by innumerable lazy media outlets and has become the foundation factoid of the Russia-as-Eternal-Enemy stance. In a Washington Post interview in March we hear that: “He [Romney] is convinced that Putin dreams of ‘rebuilding the Russian empire’ [the misquotation again]. He says, ‘That includes annexing populations as they did in Georgia [what a peculiar way to put it] and using gas and oil resources’ to throw their weight around in Europe. He maintains that the START treaty was tilted toward Russia. ‘It has to end’, he says emphatically about ‘reset’. ‘We have to show strength’, I ask him about WTO, which has been much in the news as Putin blusters and demands entry into the trade organization. Romney is again definitive. ‘Letting people into WTO who intend to cheat is obviously a mistake.’” In the Foreign Policy piece he says one of Obama’s “gifts” to Russia (which has “rewarded these gifts with nothing but obstructionism”): “Without extracting meaningful concessions from Russia, he abandoned our missile defense sites in Poland”. (But isn’t the missile defence scheme supposed to be about “rogue states”? Apparently not: Romney seems to support Moscow’s suspicion that it’s really all about Russia.)
So they’re all there – Georgia, gas prices and a despotic, cheating, revanchist Putin – welded together by a misquotation and a string of casual assertions. All that’s missing is that Putin used to be in the KGB.
But it is clear that to Romney, Moscow’s original sin is not snapping to attention and saying Так точно! to every whim that comes out of Washington (except, of course, these days, those from President Obama).
One has to assume that Romney actually believes all this stuff and, if he does become President, this does not bode well for future US-Russia relations.