Senator Mitt Romney jabbed President Trump and the “shortsightedness of ‘America First’” in a statement regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Romney also took a solid shot at President Barack Obama with a quip calling back to his famous debate remark scoffing at the then-Republican candidate for Romney’s assertion that Russia represents America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”
“Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation. It is without justification, without provocation, and without honor,” said Romney.
“Putin’s impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First,’” he continued.
“The ‘80s called’ and we didn’t answer,” quipped Romney.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 24, 2022
Romney’s Criticism Over Russia-Ukraine Wide-Ranging
Romney’s criticism is quite wide-ranging, from the invasion of Georgia in 2008, to the debate incident in 2012, and on to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The debate reference is delicious, a call back to Obama’s naivety when it came to foreign policy at the time.
“This is to Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” Romney told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on March 26, 2012.
At the final presidential debate in October, seven months later, Obama delivered what the media celebrated as a ‘zinger’ in response to Romney’s assertion.
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”
— Barack Obama on Russia in 2012pic.twitter.com/vus7belvXl
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 22, 2022
In retrospect, the comments weren’t so much a zinger as they represented the simple soundbite mentality that fueled Obama’s presidency up against the complexity of foreign policy.
Even CNN’s Chris Cillizza relented in a recent admission that Romney’s statement now “look(s) very, very different … And by ‘different,’ I mean ‘right.’”
Romney, recalling his exchange with Obama, says in new statement, “the ‘80s called’ and we didn’t answer.”
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) February 24, 2022
Romney Swipes at America First
Romney’s swipe at ‘America First’ policies sticks out a bit, however.
First, it omits the fact that President Trump – who promoted ‘America First’ – also used a foreign policy of ‘peace through strength’ which proved pretty effective in dealing with America’s adversaries.
He also never showed his cards.
That wild card factor helped keep leaders like Putin in check. Don’t believe me, just listen to liberal New York Times reporter Peter Baker.
“[Trump] said yesterday ‘this wouldn’t have happened when I was president,’ or somehow he was too tough … It is a good question whether President Trump was volatile enough that President Putin didn’t know how he would react to, you know, something more aggressive in Ukraine,” Baker dissected on MSNBC.
THE DONALD DETERRENT: Liberal reporter says Trump’s X factor gave him an edge with Putin https://t.co/SvEFlZ9EMS
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 24, 2022
The other problem with Romney going after ‘America First’ can be seen on a far more basic level – results.
Putin targeted Georgia during President George W. Bush’s tenure. He annexed Crimea during Obama’s term. He is now launching an all-out war against Ukraine under President Biden.
By contrast, he laid pretty low during the ‘America First’ term.
For the record:
Putin took Crimea under Obama/Biden
Putin took nothing under Trump/Pence
Putin takes Ukraine under Biden/Harris
Anyone see a pattern here? pic.twitter.com/2YUzMIrwMt
— Jim Rickards (@JamesGRickards) February 24, 2022
Romney’s statement urged America to get involved, not necessarily militarily, but by imposing more stringent economic sanctions.
“The peril of again looking away from Putin’s tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well,” he said. “History shows that a tyrant’s appetite for conquest is never satiated.”
“America and our allies must answer the call to protect freedom by subjecting Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense.”
A new poll shows Americans do not want Biden to lead the U.S. into playing a major role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.