Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Undeserved Apology

Madeline Albright is a Democrat. If there ever were doubt about that, it was erased because she has apologized, as we learn

At a House intelligence committee hearing, Madeline Albright just formally apologized to Mitt Romney for making fun of him in 2012 when he said Russia was our biggest geopolitical foe. She says the now Utah senator was prescient.

There are only two problems with that. One is that Mitt Romney evidently doesn't agree, at least not as recently as last month when

Utah’s junior senator voted with the administration. His communications director, Liz Johnson, told me Romney “believes the U.S. should maintain strong sanctions on Russia for its bad behavior, including its interference in our elections.” Nonetheless, she said, “his vote was in line with longstanding U.S. policy and will help preserve our leverage to gain concessions from other bad actors.”

At issue was a deal that required Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to divest from three of his companies so he no longer owned a majority stake. In exchange for the divestment, the U.S. Treasury Department would lift sanctions on those companies.

The other problem is that it is questionable that Russia is the USA's greatest geopolitical foe, even if terrorism is not considered a "geopolitical foe." Mainland China now has the second largest defensebudget in the world, is widely expanding its military presence throughout the world, and is "apparently seeks to displace the U.S. as the primary power in the Asia-Pacific and perhaps globally, as well" Columnist, author, and foreign policy expert Hal Brands explains

Today, the China challenge is commonly seen to be primarily geopolitical and economic, and there is indeed growing evidence that Beijing seeks to replace Washington as the leading power not just in the Asia-Pacific but globally. Yet China has also thrown down the ideological gauntlet. Chinese leaders have declared that Beijing’s model of authoritarian capitalism is superior to America’s model of liberal democracy. They are supporting authoritarian regimes from Cambodia to Zimbabwe, using corruption and other influence operations to impair the functioning of democracies in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, and constructing a high-tech police state at home.

Most GOP hawks seem to believe that Iran is the greatest menace to world peace, and Russia remains a danger, greater so because of its increasing coziness with China.  However, it should not be assumed that Mitt Romney believed back in 2012 that Russia was the USA's greatest geopolitical foe. 

The former governor could have run against President Obama in 2012 by noting that"Obamacare" was largely a ripoff of the health care plan that he himself had in Michigan implemented, more smoothly and efficiently than the ACA nationally. However, that would have angered the right flank of his party, and connecting Obama to Russia was low-hanging fruit, very unlikely to stir any controversy among Republicans.

There is no reason to apologize to Mitt Romney. Eli Lake notes

The measure to close debate and repeal the Deripaska deal lost by only two votes. The senator declined to join the 11 other members of his party, a party whose 2012 presidential nominee memorably warned that Russia was America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” That guy was on to something. I wonder what happened to him.

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