Mitt Romney went to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention yesterday to deliver what his campaign termed a “major foreign policy address.” In a campaign that has been largely focused on domestic economic issues, Romney’s speech was “major” in comparison to the silence on the issue that preceded it. But, it was not “major” in the sense of introducing any actual guide to how he would conduct foreign policy if he were to be elected in November. Like the tax returns he refuses to release, Romney is not showing his policy cards in this area.
Most of the speech was dedicated to a reiteration of American exceptionalism. Now, I happen to think America is exceptional in many ways. But, people who think America is exceptional can, in foreign policy matters, easily slide into hubris of the kind all Americans witnessed when then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld predicted that the war in Iraq would cost about $50 billion and essentially be over in six months. Ten years and roughly a trillion dollars later, we have finally extricated our military from the quagmire Rumsfeld’s hubris got us into.