Views You Can Use: Romney Weighs in on Russia

The 2012 Republican presidential candidate said Obama is to blame for the situation in Ukraine.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Mitt Romney writes that President Barack Obama should have acted to prevent the crisis in Ukraine.

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Former Gov. Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of causing various foreign policy crises in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee said situations in Ukraine, Russia, Syria, North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab Spring were results of lack of U.S. leadership on the world stage.

Romney wrote that Obama’s “terrible timing” had tied the country’s hands in numerous foreign policy situations. “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe,” Romney wrote. “Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.”

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air writes that the administration can hardly be surprised to find itself in the current situation with Russia: “Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Kerry set about dismantling that Pax Americana and now are shocked, shocked to see world leaders acting like they’ve always acted since long before the rise of nation-states.”

Romney isn’t incorrect that the current crises faced by the United States are the result of “a cascading failure of American leadership,” writes Noah Rothman at Mediaite. “But just because Romney is correct does not mean he is right.” He said that the United States must present a united front to Russia and that all Americans, regardless of politics, should want to “avoid giving Russia’s propagandists ammunition to attack the president and expose the appearance of disunion in the West.” Public criticisms that offer no solutions are not constructive, Rothman argues.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

Daniel Larison of the American Conservative writes that Romney’s op-ed is a reminder why “most of us” are glad the Republican isn’t president of the United States. He said Romney’s argument that Obama should have acted earlier to impose sanctions on Russia is flawed:

Romney thinks that the U.S. could have headed off the crisis by threatening Russia with punishment for things it had not yet done, but that ignores that Russia has behaved the way that it has because it already thought that Western interference in Ukraine was too great. Threatening Russia with sanctions at an earlier date would have changed nothing, except perhaps to make the crisis even harder to resolve.

Indeed, this “hindsight-is-20/20 argument” – that the president should have been able to anticipate, prepare for and act on foreign affairs crises in a timely manner – is “virtually useless,” writes Ryu Spaeth for The Week. It does nothing to provide a more decisive foreign policy, but demonstrates the differing Republican views on the proper direction for foreign policy, he says. Compared with Sens. John McCain and Rand Paul, “Romney ends up in a weird no man's land in which he fails to offer any real alternative to Obama's policies.”