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Mitt Romney’s Cold War Syndrome – OpEd


By Polina Chernitsa

Recently, one of the candidates for the US presidency, Republican Mitt Romney, made some anti-Russian statements, earlier untypical of him.

Within the last few days, Mr. Romney several times called Russia ‘America’s geopolitical enemy # 1’.

Besides, some of his statements were one step from accusing President Obama of treason against the state.

Experts believe that Mr. Romney does this because he wants to win the support of the conservatively-minded part of the Republicans, who are traditionally set against Russia. However, he didn’t probably realize that his statements may alienate moderate Republicans from him.

Mr. Romney’s criticized President Obama mostly for what Mr. Obama said at a meeting in Seoul concerning the US’s plans of a network of anti-missile facilities in Europe.

Mitt Romney is not the only US politician who has criticized Mr. Obama for his ‘revelations’ in Seoul. For example, another candidate for presidency, Newt Gingrich, has said that “Obama will sell out our defense system to Russia”. And Alaska’s former governor Sarah Palin, known for her conservative views, claimed that “President Obama will have more flexibility to weaken us if he’s re-elected in November”. She was obviously referring to Mr. Obama’s words, which he recently said to Russia’s President Medvedev, that “he (Obama) would have more flexibility after the November election to deal with the contentious issue of missile defense”.

But Mr. Romney’s criticism against Mr. Obama was much sharper than Mr. Gingrich’s or Ms. Palin’s. He, in fact, said, that by his ‘concessions’ to Russia, Mr. Obama was allegedly betraying the interests of the USA.

This sudden change in Mr. Romney, who hasn’t been noticed to express anti-Russian sentiments until now, may seem strange. However, political observers say that it is quite explainable. As a candidate for presidency, Mr. Romney wants to win the sympathies of conservatively-minded voters.

Russian analyst Boris Makarenko says: “Mr. Romney obviously wants to look, as the proverb says, ‘more holy than the Pope’ – that is, more conservative than the most conservative US politicians. He may win the sympathies of some voters by this, but it is more likely that his statements will rather alienate many realistically-minded people from him. I believe that saying such things is impermissible for a candidate for presidency.”

Mitt Romney’s chances to win the elections are not very high. True, at present, the candidate who goes after Mr. Romney in rating lists, Rick Santorum, is lagging behind him by 8%. True, Mr. Romney, a Republican, has even won the primaries in several states, the population of which traditionally vote for Democrats. But primaries are primaries, and it is the result of the final elections that really matters. If these people are accustomed to vote for Democrats in any situation, they may vote for Democrats at the coming final elections as well.

So, at present, Mr. Romney and his aides are trying to use every opportunity to raise his rating. The easiest but the most effective way to look good is by criticizing one’s rival – and it is small wonder that at present, Mr. Obama’s rivals in the presidential race are ready to pick up every word inaccurately dropped by him to use against him.

Russian analyst Pavel Zolotaryov says: “I don’t believe that Mr. Romney is really so set against Russia as he pretends to be. During presidential campaigns, candidates often say things sometimes totally deprived of any logic, only to be liked by their potential voters.”

In Mitt Romney’s recent article called “Bowing to the Kremlin”, he writes that in the situation when Russia is blocking all the US’s initiatives on Syria and Iran, the American people “deserve a foreign policy founded upon our enduring principles and a recognition of our exceptional place in the world. That is not what they are getting now. Unfortunately, what they are getting is a sad replay of Jimmy Carter’s bungling at a moment when the United States needs the backbone and courage of a Ronald Reagan.”

This rhetoric, which resembles the time of the Cold War, will hardly bring Mr. Romney many new supporters. Moreover, he is likely to loose some of his former ones who are not minded that conservatively.

Some US journalists say that Mr. Romney has switched to discussing foreign policy because he has nothing to suggest in the sphere of home policy.

Pavel Zolotaryov says: “It is hard to deny that whatever the successes or the drawbacks of President Obama’s foreign policy may be, his home policy is slowly but surely bringing some positive results. The American people cannot but feel this, and this will most likely determine their choice at the presidential elections to a bigger extent than any problems of foreign policy.”

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev says that Mr. Romney’s pre-election behavior ‘resembles second-rate Hollywood films”. He also advised Mr. Romney to realize that the Cold War has long become a reality of the past.

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VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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