BY JAIME FULLER
March 20 at 8:45 am
Ever since the United States got involved in the dispute over Ukraine -- and ended up in a challenging place with Russia over it -- people have been quietly reviving statements that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made during the 2012 election about his foreign policy concerns. When Russia decided they'd like to annex Crimea this week, the dig into the Romney archive began anew, with consensus from his co-partiers -- and from some people who would never admit to liking him -- generally falling along the lines of "oh my dear lord, Mitt was right all along!"
Campaign statements about the Affordable Care Act and general gloom and doom were also recycled. One Web site went so far as to ask if Romney was the next Nostradamus. Actually, more than one Web site crowned him the seer of our time.
Is the hype true?
Let us go through some of Romney's old statements, and add some context to the conversation.
First of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe. Not... excuse me. It's a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same -- in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin.
This is the Romney prediction that has been getting the most press lately. Over the course of the 2012 campaign, Romney repeatedly called Russia “our number one geopolitical foe.” However, when Obama pushed back against that statement in the Oct. 22, 2012, debate, Romney downgraded Russia to a geopolitical foe, as David Weigel pointed out last September. Romney decided in the end that he wasn't set on casting the former Soviet Union as the big baddie of his hypothetical administration. He just saw Russia as a foe for all geopolitical generations.
Was Romney right?
With the conflict in Ukraine escalating and President Vladimir Putin actively annexing Crimea, many people are citing Romney's "number one geopolitical foe" line with vindication. The fact that the New York Times editorial board wrote at the time that such rhetoric was "either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics" made Romney's supporters even more gleeful. Last September, a Romney friend told Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins, “Everyone thought, Oh my goodness that is so clever and Mitt’s caught in the Cold War and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Well guess what. With all of these foreign policy initiatives — Syria, Iran, [Edward] Snowden — who’s out there causing problems for America? It’s Putin and the Russians.” Media outlets on the left and right have mentioned Romney's remarks as "just about right" over the past year. Romney has begun "I told you so-ing" too. In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, he wrote,
In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/03/20/was-romney-right-a-look-back-at-his-campaign-predictions/