Former GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said “there’s no question” that President Obama’s “naivete with regards to Russia and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face.”
“Unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine as well as things that you’re seeing in Syria,” Romney said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We really need to understand that Russia has very different interests than ours, this is not fantasy land, this is reality, where they are a geopolitical adversary. They’re not our enemy, but they are certainly an adversary on the world stage.”
Romney added “it couldn’t be a surprise to folks that Russia might take the opportunity to grab that territory,” with one clue that the Ukrainian invasion was planned in advance being the uniforms and trucks with Russian military insignia removed.
“I think effective leaders typically are able to see the future to a certain degree and then try and take actions to shape it in some way. And that is of course what this president has failed to do and his secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as well. They thought resetting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia, would somehow make Russia change its objectives,” he continued.
“…Right now you do the kinds of things that are only available to you after something bad has happened, which options are typically far less effective. But you do put in place the sanctions, you do strengthen our relationship with our friends, particularly in Eastern Europe. You welcome those that seek entry into NATO to join NATO. You rebuild our military budget. You don’t shrink our military budget at a time like this. You begin cooperation, military cooperation with nations in Eastern Europe that want that cooperation.”
Romney stressed he’s not thinking about running for president again, but is “thinking about the people who I want to see running for president.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he saw Romney as having a couple of positions. “First, if we’d have shown military force somewhere in the world it might have discouraged Putin. I disagree and so does history. In the midst of the Vietnam War when the United States was deeply involved in that war, Brezhnev invaded Czechoslovakia. In the midst of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin invaded the Republic of Georgia,” he said.
“Let’s call it for what it is. Here is Vladimir Putin with a failing Soviet franchise, and when he can’t win the hearts and minds of his neighboring nations he uses energy extortion, masked gunmen and barbed wire,” Durbin added. “Now he is a bully. And we have got to call him for what he is, but this notion that some sanction is going to stop a formal colonel in the KGB from his ambitions of a Russian empire is naive.”
Durbin is among a handful of senators who were targeted with revenge travel bans by the Kremlin after the first sanctions from Washington were ordered.
“Governor Romney is suffering from political amnesia. Does he remember the reaction of the rest of the world to our invasion of Iraq? The fact is that many of our stalwart allies of the past thought it was a terrible decision. What President Obama has done is restore a working relationship,” Durbin said. “Osama bin Laden is gone. The war in Iraq is over. Afghanistan is coming to a close. And this president has worked with many of these nations successfully to put pressure on Iran with the sanctions, bringing them to negotiating table. I’m afraid Governor Romney has forgotten those facts.”
Romney said that, under Obama, “our esteem around the world has fallen.”
“I can’t think of a major country, it’s hard to think of a single country that has greater respect and admiration for America today than it did five years ago when Barack Obama became president,” the governor said. “And that’s a very sad, unfortunate state of affairs.”