Commentary: Romney Showcases His Foreign Policy Naiveté

After the killing of American diplomats in Libya, the Republican presidential candidate offers ill-advised criticism of President Obama.

Posted: 09/12/2012 01:24 PM EDT

The killing of the American ambassador to Libya and three members of his diplomatic staff represents a time for American leaders to come together, to present a united front in condemning violence and to offer condolences to the families of those who died.

It is a time for leaders to strongly underscore American values in the way President Obama did when he condemned the killings and ordered increased security at American diplomatic posts around the world. It is a time to salute the Libyan government, as the president did, for the role their security forces played in fighting against the violent mob and protecting American diplomats.

It is not a time for partisan political statements or for demagoguery. Yet, that is precisely what Mitt Romney contributed to the discussion of this volatile international crisis.  

"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," Romney said about the situation in Libya.

But then, he plunged into partisan politics.

"It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," he said.

As if that weren’t sufficiently outrageous, Romney went on to speak about the matter at a press conference Wednesday, even before President Obama had addressed the nation on the matter.  

“I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation,” Romney said.

Romney fired an ill-advised, inaccurate cheap shot in his hopeless and crass quest to get political mileage out of an incident where American diplomats lost their lives. And in doing so, the Republican presidential candidate demonstrated yet again how he's an amateur when it comes to foreign affairs.

The incidents in Benghazi as well as anti-American protests in Cairo were sparked by the dissemination of a video condemning Islam made by an American filmmaker. Before any violence had taken place, the Obama administration preemptively issued a condemnation of the video while reaffirming its commitment to religious tolerance. That hardly qualifies as an apology.

But as he did in his missteps in criticizing the British during the Olympics in London, Romney has once again highlighted that, when it comes to foreign affairs, he is far from presidential.

During the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Romney pledged to refrain from criticizing President Obama. But his campaign changed direction and injected dangerous, politically driven remarks at a time when the United States is seeking to protect American diplomats.

For Romney, it would have been far wiser to have either expressed support of American values, to have condemned the violence or, better still, to simply have remained silent.


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(Photo:AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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