Should the Russians, or the Chinese for that matter, take the Republican platform or Mitt Romney’s foreign policy statements seriously? For Russia’s Gazeta, columnist Fyodor Lukyanov examines the party, the Republican nominee, and most of all his running mate, and concludes when you come right down to it, today’s Republicans, while uttering the phrases Americans came to know during the Cold War, are too bogged down with domestic issues, and out of touch when it comes to how to deal with a fast-changing world.
For Gazeta, after carefully dissecting the Republican Party platform when it comes to Russia, Fyodor Lukyanov writes in part:
Despite the relatively noticeable presence of Russian themes in the party platform and statements by the candidate, it is clear that in electoral terms, Russia is insignificant.
Traditionally, one of the presidential pair has extensive foreign policy experience, or at least has an interest in foreign affairs. But this time around, neither Mitt Romney nor his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan can make such a claim.
What really matters is not any particular issue, but the overall point of view on the role America plays – and should play – on the global stage. The chapter of the document [the Republican Party platform] devoted to foreign policy and national security has an eloquent title: American Exceptionalism.
The Republicans are usually happy to slash everything but the cost of national security. Romney belongs in this category: antimissile defense, for instance, is his sacred cow, because it is Reagan’s legacy.
His running mate comes across as a man who, naturally, will say whatever is necessary about American security, but is fundamentally removed from the matter and has no interest in it. The appearance of a vice presidential candidate who is indifferent to foreign policy is symptomatic (the last election and Sarah Palin are not indicative, because John McCain was a recognized authority in foreign affairs). Even in the Republican camp, there is a tacit understanding that in the 21st century, betting on America’s global dominance may simply be unaffordable.
Foreign Policy magazine recently noted that even if Romney wanted to continue the tradition of a foreign-policy-aware vice president, he would not have had much of choice in terms of running mates. The “aces” in that sphere are gradually fading from the scene and leaving the stage to activists of a different sort. A good example would be the retirement of the legendary Senator Dick Lugar. He lost his Republican primary to a Tea Party extremist and is no longer in the race for the Senate. Ron Paul and his son Rand wield noticeable influence over the Republican debate. Ron Paul, a veteran of American politics with libertarian and isolationist leanings, fought Romney for the nomination until the end, while Rand is a rising Tea Party star. Some commentators, noting the declining interest of Republicans in foreign affairs, are talking about a relative provincialization of the party. If Romney wins, it will be possible to test the veracity of this claim in practice.
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