Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When it Comes to Foreign Affairs, is Mitt Romney Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

The final debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama was a technocratic affair in which the challenger borrowed the incumbent's positions in order to prevent a knockout defeat.

I cannot imagine an independent or low information voter being able to follow Monday night's debate for any sustained amount of time.

Obama clearly defeated Mitt Romney following a devastating flurry of blows to the head and body--this was the equivalent of an adult beating up an impudent child--alas, it will not matter in terms of the final vote.

Few issues of legitimate disagreement or substance were discussed in Monday's debate. As Chris Matthews smartly pointed out, there was no mention of how multipolar our world had become, or how Europe's economic crisis has impacted America's economy. Those are epic fails on the part of the moderator.

Interestingly, there was no question about either the decline of peak oil or the threat posed by global warming. Much time was instead spent on the chimera issue of the United States' relationship with Israel. The Israel Lobby is not going anywhere, for either candidate, now or in the near future. The public and candidates' energies would be better spent talking about other matters.

While no substantive disagreements about the reality of American Empire took place during the final debate, there were however a few moments which revealed a frightening divergence in expertise and temperament between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

The Republican challenger is apparently possessed by the demons and ghosts of George Bush the Younger, and is frighteningly incapable of taking consistent issue positions on matters of serious national concern. Romney's pathological lying about domestic affairs is one thing; his malleable relationship to the truth in matters of international affairs will make the world less safe.

Moreover, Romney offers up a childish version of diplomacy and statecraft which assumes that the United States can always get her way, and that other countries are on bended knee, awaiting American guidance and approval before they act.

Comic characters such as Superman and Captain America have both moved well beyond a view of a unipolar world that revolves around the United States as a hyper-power. The fact that a candidate for the Office of the President of the United States of America would spin fictions that are better suited for children, and neophytes drunk on the lie of our country's invisibility and natural superiority, is chilling.

In the last debate, Mitt Romney also revealed how contemporary conservatism is stuck in a world of its own making, one where the facts and geopolitical realities are to be discarded as inconvenient.

When I was in elementary school, I watched Rambo movies and G.I. Joe cartoons. I also read the G.I  Joe comic books. I also loved the Red Dawn movie because America always found a way to win. Even American high school students could defeat the best soldiers from the Russian and Nicaraguan armies. We were that great.

The Final Countdown was awesome too. In that movie a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier goes back in time to fight the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. These are the fun playthings and memories of children. Such memories and childish things cannot be the basis of a credible foreign policy. Conservatives and low information voters have internalized these myths as barometers for patriotism and American Exceptionalism.

The petit authoritarians of the Tea Party GOP still exist in this infantile and politically adolescent stage of development. As such, they should be treated like the dangerous children they are. In shilling to their childish ways, Mitt Romney offered up three related fictions.

First, America is not a shining city on the hill that only supports democracies and human rights. If another candidate said such a thing, I would understand that it was an act designed to appeal to the uninformed mass public. With Mitt Romney I am unsure. He may actually believe such fables. The United States has historically backed authoritarian regimes because said governments supported the geopolitical and economic agenda of American elites.

Perhaps Mitt Romney should watch Why We Fight:

Alternatively, Romney could learn a great deal from Marine Corps legend General Smedley Butler:

Mitt Romney is clearly not an expert on military affairs. But, he is smart enough to appeal to independent voters, as well as his base, two groups that are engaged in a phallocentric pissing contest view of American military power where more ships and planes equals more military power and influence abroad.

During the debate, I talked to one of my friends, guest commenter Bill the Lizard,  in order to briefly share a laugh at Romney's ill informed views on the size of the U.S. Navy and Air Force. He and I are both ghetto nerd military grognard types who understand the silliness of Romney's critique of a "historically" small military.

Killing power, lethality, and the ability to deliver payloads are the core metric for calculating a comparative measure for the U.S. military's effectiveness in 2012 vs. 1917. Mitt Romney may not know these things. His public likely does not know these facts. To them, big toys equal American power. Mitt Romney is the equivalent of a grown kid playing with G.I. Joe toys.

Like Romney, I always wanted to own the USS Flagg aircraft carrier. My parents said it cost too much. In reality it only held one or two planes, so I think mom and dad may have been right. Romney would think buying a few of these toys would be a good investment:

Romney also wants more planes for the air force. Numbers matter. Perhaps, the United States could buy more biplanes? For the many tens of millions of dollars for an F-22 Raptor, the air force could buy many thousands of World War One or World War Two era fighter planes. I was always partial to the G.I. Joe plane the SkyStriker. I bet Romney has a few of them to play with as well:

As President Obama smartly and directly pointed out, international relations is not a game of Battleship. It is also not a video game. Politicians lie. Politicians lie as a matter of strategy and routine because they reason that the consequences are minimal as the American people have low expectations, and the institutional checks are usually great enough to prevent severe consequences from any one poor decision.

International relations are based upon the clear signalling of direct intentions and consequences. The sociopathic behavior of Romney on the domestic front would be extremely problematic. His post-truth campaign abroad would go beyond the noble and necessary lie to the flippant and erratic one. Such tendencies are a formula for war and conflict.

In the final debate the real Mitt Romney stood up. He is a corporate pitchman who is willing to tell any lie in order to close the deal. I wonder how such an approach will work with China, Pakistan, Brazil, India, or Russia?

Ultimately, Mitt Romney has demonstrated a shocking lack of character and consistency. His willingness to play such games with American prestige abroad, and the lives of our military men and women, makes him utterly disqualified to be President of the United States.


Bruto Alto said...


Mittens did get one point accross. He painted BO as a war hawk. "We can't kill our way out of this"
Also no one talked about Mexico and the U.S. support of rebels and drug cartels. Lazy debate for Mittens but smoke and mirrors for BO

nomad said...

Who does this statement best describe?

"He is a corporate pitchman who is willing to tell any lie in order to close the deal."

A. Mitt Romney

B. Barack Obama

C. Both of the above

nomad said...

Who to choose? The flaming psychopath? Or the likable sociopath? If you got to have an immoral leader, I'd go with the likable one.

"Voting for Romney would be irresponsible. But let me explain why voting for Obama is equally reckless. Obama has advanced the interests of the 1% ever since he got into office. Beginning with early betrayals on his cabinet choices, not releasing any Guantanamo prisoners, keeping the tax cuts for the rich, and escalating the war in Afghanistan, he is now outdoing Bush in almost every possible category of public policy horror and duplicity. We have an ongoing war in Afghanistan that should have been ended three years ago; an administration currently fighting for the right to put US citizens into indefinite detainment without a trial; a presidential who approves of drones over the US as if we were an enemy people; no job stimulus program; a clamp down on whistleblowers; presidential assassinations of US citizens. Obama is a president more imperial than even Dick Cheney would have had the chutzpah to imagine in his wildest wet dreams. Obama pretends to be for jobs while he secretly negotiates another free trade agreement that he even keeps from the Congress but shares with corporate lobbyists. He fails to deal with the serious threat of climate change. Obama personally chooses some who will die thousands of miles away by a drone attack as he supports more and more drones that state-terrorize Afghans, Pakistanis, Yemenis with death suddenly flaming down from the sky. Voting for Obama is voting for death, as Linh Dinh persuasively wrote in more recent CounterPunch article, and so is immoral whatever your religion or code of ethics.


makheru bradley said...

Foreign policy is one reason why I labeled this election as a choice between injustice and immorality. That is between one who drops bombs on babies and one who would drop bombs on babies; between one who facilitated racist forces that lynched Black people in Libya and one who would do the same thing; between one who assassinates American citizens and one who would assassinate American citizens; between a despicable war criminal and one why is dying to become one. In other words both candidates have the same foreign policy—United States imperialism.

None of that matters to the overwhelming majority of the American body politic. The lives of the people being killed, just like the lives of the young Afrikan Americans being killed in Chicago, have no value.

The majority of Romney’s supporters are driven by superficial patriotism—taking back what they consider to be theirs. The others, who will decide the election, are driven by the economy.

makheru bradley said...

@Nomad, when we compare Bart Gruzalski's analysis to Cornel West's analysis, it becomes crystal clear that people like West, who know better, are sacrificing truth on an altar of rationalizations. For West—a self-proclaimed “revolutionary Christian”--political strategy trumps moral conscience: “American politics are not a matter of voting your moral conscience—if I voted my moral conscience it would probably be for Jill Stein.”

What missing in this foreign policy non-debate are the views of people Dennis Kucinich, whose courageous voice will be sorely missed in Congress:

[You'd think that after ten years in Iraq and after eleven years in Afghanistan that the U.S. would have learned the consequences and the limits of interventionism. ... Today we're engaging in a discussion about the security failures of Benghazi. The security situation did not happen overnight because of a decision made by someone at the State Department. ...

We owe it to the diplomatic corps, who serves our nation, to start at the beginning and that's what I shall do. Security threats in Libya, including the unchecked extremist groups who are armed to the teeth, exist because our nation spurred on a civil war destroying the security and stability of Libya. ... We bombed Libya. We destroyed their army. We obliterated their police stations ... Al Qaeda expanded its presence.

Weapons are everywhere. Thousands of shoulder-to-air missiles are on the loose. Our military intervention led to greater instability in Libya. ... It's not surprising that the State Department was not able to adequately protect our diplomats from this predictable threat. It's not surprising and it's also not acceptable. ...

We want to stop attacks on our embassies? Let's stop trying to overthrow governments. This should not be a partisan issue. Let's avoid the hype. Let's look at the real situation here. Interventions do not make us safer. They do not protect our nation. They are themselves a threat to America.]

nomad said...

The jig is up. The game revealed. The Empire has no clothes. I once had a broken TV that I could only get one channel on. I called it my communist TV. (Cold War era). One channel we are allowed to tune into. That's where we are now. I used to think we had two. And maybe at some point in the recent past we did. Ostensibly we have two channels. But they're both channeling the same thing, as CD correctly points out ("no substantive disagreements about the reality of American Empire occurred"). When one thing is just like the other, you don't have a real choice. That's "communism" in disguise. A more accurate name? Fascism.

And now that you see the light, what you gone do? Zombie out? Baa down? Or stand up for your right?

Most people thank
Great God will come from the sky,
Take away evything
And make evybody be high.
But this aint all that life is worth.
You would look for yours on earth.
Now that you see the light...

hows the rest adat go?

nomad said...

Not that I'm trying to hijack the thread or anything, but Did I mention, the Democratic Party must die?

"Arguing for the re-election of a person who so clearly is a danger to the nation and to the world is at best illogical, and at worst is immoral. The time for defending tiny victories should end. Barack Obama and the Democrats should know that their critics mean business, and will cease supporting them. Racist statements from right wing pundits and bizarre statements about rape and pregnancy shouldn’t fool anyone into supporting policies that are wrong for this country and for the world.
On November 6th it is perfectly acceptable, morally right, and politically principled to boycott the election or to vote for a party other than the Democrats." http://blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-not-voting-obama

Bruto Alto said...

"On November 6th it is perfectly acceptable, morally right, and politically principled to boycott the election or to vote for a party other than the Democrats."

I looked at BAR...Funny I thought it was a Republican site. Same talking points, same views, and same fear talk...This is why you lose the youth.

nomad said...

BAR same as GOP. What a bizarre statement.
Why you lose the youth? BHO.