Romney's Attitude Toward Foreign Policy Hurting U.S.'s Reputation In Europe
Recent polling numbers reported by The Guardian suggest that only about 1 in 20, or 5 percent, of the 12,000 German, French and British citizens polled feel that Mitt Romney becoming president would better their views of the U.S. Meanwhile, nearly 50 percent of those polled felt that a Romney victory would reflect unfavorably on their opinion of the U.S. So, why do Europeans hate Mitt Romney?
Well, there are several factors, and not drinking wine isn’t one of them. The three big issues are Mitt Romney’s personality, geopolitical ignorance and worldview.
First of all, Mitt Romney failed his European tour this summer – he went from criticizing the Olympics while in London to being labeled a persona non grata while in Italy – which, in legal terms, roughly means that the Italian government deems Mitt Romney’s business practices too shady to be allowed to influence the country. So, perhaps Romney does not have a charismatic personality and does not have a great business reputation in Italy – these alone only scratch the surface.
Mitt Romney has repeatedly made displays of ignorance, and in my opinion, stupidity, in terms of world politics. The example that comes to mind is his statement labeling the Russian Federation as the U.S.’s “number one geopolitical foe,” which to his credit he has not flip-flopped on yet. A U.S. presidential candidate cannot make a statement like this; while domestically the public seems to have forgiven him for it, Europe and Russia both take statements like that seriously. A simple statement such as that can alter foreign policy, and considering the tenuous relationship between Russia and Western Europe, Mitt Romney should watch his words.
Lastly, just Like George W. Bush Jr., Mitt Romney is not an internationalist. This is an important point – because from WWII and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency onwards, arguably every U.S. president has been an internationalist, until G. W. Bush Jr. Notwithstanding, even Bush Jr. handled the crisis in Sudan in a very diplomatic way, by use of a respected envoy, Senator Danforth, which pleased the world. The fear is that Mitt Romney would look at a situation like Sudan as hopeless, and not even attempt to solve it, apart from deferring it to a desk in the State Department.
This view of Romney is all the more reinforced by video footage of Romney at a private fundraising dinner last week. Romney’s comments portray peace in Israel as hopeless, and that negotiating with the Palestinians is pointless: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway...there’s just no way.” In the same video, Romney also displays an incredibly narrow point of view toward and ignorance of the delicate and complicated situation in Iran. He negates issues of internal dissent, history and culture by personifying the nation as a “crazed fanatic.”
Ultimately, Europe takes issue with Romney’s attitude toward foreign policy just as much as they take issue with his policy proposals. Perhaps if Romney were to look back at the foreign policy success stories of his party, such as those of Bush Sr. and Nixon, he could actually challenge Obama on what is arguably the president’s strongest issue area.