, Salem, MA


October 24, 2012

Ambrose: The pettiness refuge

President Barack Obama has a problem with foreign policy that’s much the same as his problem with economic policy — the state of things. The economy is in the worst recovery since World War II, the world is likewise a scary mess, and so maybe it wasn’t surprising in a debate on foreign issues Monday night that Obama sought refuge in pettiness.

If the topic was something big and large, such as an agenda for peace, the president would snarl at Mitt Romney about something like how this Republican challenger didn’t really want to save the American auto industry. Romney would try to correct him, Obama would interrupt, the debate would dissolve into accusations of untruthfulness, and Obama could then breathe easy. After all, can you imagine him answering Romney’s remark about Russia walking away from a nuclear disarmament program?

It’s true, you know. The Russian government said just this month that it was going to end a 20-year deal under which the United States has been disposing of its nuclear bombs. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made it repeatedly clear that he longs for a return to the good, old Soviet days, went a step further by later directing a major military exercise in which unarmed missiles were launched.

Maybe Putin suspects growing U.S. weakness, and maybe he suspects it because of a couple of other matters Romney mentioned. One was a tour in which Obama went around parts of the world mentioning U.S. faults, apparently as a means of endearing us to others. Another was Obama telling Poland we would not install a missile defense system there to guard against Iranian or other attacks on Europe. Russia didn’t like that proposed system, and the administration said OK, figuring Russia would then be more cooperative with us in the future. What we have gotten ourselves is a Stalin wannabe.

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