Romney Had Best Not Listen to Bush's 'Neocon Lunatics' (Izvestia,
"People do not
want to return to the now-bankrupt Republican policies of the Bush era. ... Romney
uttered the words that if he wins, U.S. policy toward Russia will be less
flexible and more rigid. Those words, I suspect, evoked nothing but an ironic
smirk from Putin. ... If Romney’s position is to be determined by neoconservative
'lunatics' like John Bolton and Bob Kagan, his
foreign policy will be as doomed to failure as Obama's most recent predecessors."
Political scientist AndranikMigranyan on the most
likely winner of the U.S. election race
The vast majority of analysts who have followed election
campaigns over the last 30-40 years, consider the current election one of the
dirtiest in American history. On negative television commercials alone, hundreds
of millions of dollars are being spent in an attempt to depict the opposing
side in the most unflattering light. As a result, the central protagonist of
the Republican ads, Obama, is presented to the voters as a communist who wants
to turn the U.S. into an average European country in which socialist-democratic
values prevail. The least serious Republican contention is that an Obama
victory would doom the U.S. to follow in the pathetic footsteps of modern
The Democrats, in turn, have directed their efforts at portraying
Mitt Romney as a man far removed from the needs of the average American, and to
assert that if he came to power, the economic situation would deteriorate,
social services would be undercut, and the burden of leading the country out of
the crisis would be borne by the middle class, the poor, and the disadvantaged.
Opinion polls show that both Obama and Romney have a chance
to win, and that in the end, the margin separating the two may be minimal.
Obama wins by charisma - he, unlike Romney, is favored by women and minorities
(ethnic, racial, sexual, etc.) Romney, on the other hand, gives the impression
of being a very rational person, devoid of charisma and appeal. Based on the
principle of likability - who is beloved by the electorate - Obama is way ahead
Romney faces another serious problem in this campaign. Until
recently, analysts believed that Republicans would try to turn this election
into a referendum on economic policies of the Obama Administration - and that
the results of those policies are modest at best, and in many ways disastrous.
But with the selection of Paul Ryan as running mate, the campaign has entered
another dimension. Now Americans must choose between the Democratic and Republican
programs in regard to how to emerge from the systemic crisis that America has been
mired in since 2008.
The central battleground for the candidates will be over the
fate of Medicare.
Both parties believe that the system needs reform, but have diametrically
opposed positions when it comes to the nature of that reform. Chasing the votes
of retirees, both sides are lobbing accusations at the other, claiming that the
opponent’s reform would be catastrophic to both Medicare recipients and the country's
economy as a whole. The American voter will be hard pressed to sort out who is
right, because the system of Medicare is so complex, as is the mechanism that
forms its financial basis. So as always, the average voter will have to trust in
the word of a candidate from one of the two leading parties.
Then there is the question being asked by so many U.S.
political analysts: Why has Romney taken such a risky step - and altered his campaign
strategy? In my view, he had good reason to do so. There was a serious danger
that a negative campaign against Obama would fall short of achieving a Republican
victory. Yes, many are unhappy with the results of the Obama Administration's four
years in office. But even more so, people do not want to return to the
now-bankrupt Republican policies of the Bush era. That is why Romney wants to
convince the electorate that his party has new leaders, new ideas, and that beyond
criticizing Obama, they have some alternatives to offer, too.
The current dead-heat of the candidates means that the
election outcome depends largely on the televised debates. That is why in this
election, Republicans must present themselves, not as a party coming to power
with its old baggage, but one with new faces and new ideas, appealing to independent
voters and those not affiliated with either party - the choice of whom will in
fact decide the outcome of the November election.
Finally, I would like to address how Republicans view America's
place in the international community. Unfortunately, up to now, the impression has
been, as Talleyrand said of
the Bourbons after the restoration
of the monarchy, “they have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing.” The
Republicans criticize Obama’s foreign policy on all fronts. The criticism is
often forced and absolutely baseless. Particularly when it come to Obama’s
attempts to normalize relations with other countries and U.S. allies, marred by
the Bush Administration’s condescending policy of unilateral domination. In
this context, it is not surprising that in this context, Romney uttered the
words, clearly aimed at the average American, that if he wins, U.S. policy
toward Russia will be less flexible and more rigid.
Those words, I suspect, evoked nothing but an ironic smirk
from Putin. I doubt the Russian president cares whether U.S. policy toward Russia
is more flexible or not. More important is that it is realistic - particularly for
the United States. If Romney’s position is to be determined by neoconservative
“lunatics” like John Bolton and Bob Kagan, if he
wins, Romney’s foreign policy will be as doomed to failure as Obama's most
recent predecessors Clinton and George W. Bush. The former unsuccessfully tried
to marginalize and weaken Russia and eliminate it as a major player in world
politics. The latter tried, futilely, to establish unequivocal U.S. lordship
over the world, without considering the opinions and interests of America's partners
and opponents - but also its friends and allies.
It is obvious to every realistically-minded analyst that the
ambitions of neoconservative “lunatics” do not correspond with America's available
“ammunition.” It is encouraging that in his former life as a businessman and
Massachusetts governor, Romney proved himself a sober, careful, balanced, and
responsible person. So, if he wins, I hope his foreign policy is guided by an assessment
of threats to U.S. security - not of neocon “lunatics,”
but of such serious people as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, who have repeatedly stressed
that the central threat to U.S. security is America's own national debt, which
has reached catastrophic levels. That is why Romney would be too busy putting
his own house in order rather than venturing on doubtful adventures in foreign
lands. The world has changed over the last decade, and that is what whoever
wins the 2012 election will have to contend with.
*Andranik Migranyan is director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation.