Romney And His Enemy

Text of report by Russian political commentary website Politkom.ru on 15 May

[Article by Aleksandr Golubov: "Romney And His Enemy."]

The recent statement by the Republican presidential candidate to the effect that Russia is the number one enemy for the US in the international arena evoked puzzlement not only in Russia and among his opponents from the Democratic camp. A heated discussion flared among Republicans themselves about how justified such an approach really is.

It is entirely probable that these words were merely a pre-electoral trick, aimed at resurrecting the events of the end of the last century in the minds of Americans, when Ronald Reagan was considered by many to be one of the main "culprits" responsible for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The attempt to mobilize voters with the aid of the customary image of the foreign enemy is a card that could have been played rather successfully in the presidential race.

Such a trick is an entirely rational decision. After all, Medvedev, who was considered in the West to be rather "soft," has been replaced by the more "authoritarian" Putin. Reports from protest rallies in Moscow have once again begun appearing on the television screens, and Russia’s blockage of the attempt to intervene in the Syrian conflict in the UN Security Council may be presented as a return to the times of struggle for the Near East between the two super-powers.

All this should be used to contrast Romney’s hard-line position to the "soft-bodied" Obama, whose "reset" project merely forced Americans to stop and think about what a complex partner Russia is for cooperation. And such a separation into black and white which is so convenient for electoral campaigning would have been to the benefit of the Republican, even if we "accidentally forget" all of the successes achieved in cooperation with Russia. These include support of the embargo directed against Iran, including the rejection of sale of "ground-to-air" systems to Tehran, and Moscow’s granting of its air space for aircraft supplying the armed contingent in Afghanistan with all necessities.

This jab could have been viewed as being beneficial also because this is not the first time that Romney has spoken out in this vein. An interview with experts who answer for foreign policy in his electoral campaign, as well as his own words, testify to the fact that, for the ex-Governor of Massachusetts, his attitude towards Russia is a rather important aspect of his foreign political views, and has a long history. Mitt Romney focuses his attention on the interconnection between economic might and geopolitical affinity, and this is specifically why he sees danger in Russia’s resource riches, which may allow Moscow to blackmail Europe, increasing its sphere of influence and getting resources for increasing its military might without any special efforts.

All of the aforementioned must potentially play into the hands of the candidate from the Republican Party, if only he were a bit more diplomatic in his statements. But the abruptness with which he called Russia the "number one enemy" will sooner play a negative role for his electoral campaign. Even though Romney’s position has a right to existence, it also has its weak points. At times, the ex-governor’s reasoning evokes in specialists not only doubts about his competency, but is even the butt of jokes. The recent supposition that Russian bombers are capable of carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles on board is one of the many blunders made by Romney in his attempt to prove the danger of Russia for the US.

These blunders are so vulnerable and noticeable that efforts to divide the world into black and white appear too grotesque in this case, and instead of the dramatic effect that they were intended to have, they create the impression that the Republican really has gotten stuck in the past of the "Star Wars" era and the arms race. And not only Dmitriy Medvedev openly speaks of this, but also some of Romney’s colleagues from the Republican Party. In the eyes of many Americans, it is not Russia that is an enemy for America. Rather, it i s the ex-governor’s attitude towards Moscow that is the enemy of his presidential ambitions.

Source: Politkom.ru website, Moscow, in Russian 15 May 12

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