I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.
Part X: Obama Is Weak and Naive: :
One way to look at American foreign policy since 1945 is to draw a contrast between the Kennanites and the Kissingerites. The Kennanites believe, by and large--except for when George Kennan and his followers would get into depressed Spenglerian moods--that the tide of history is running our way. They believe that our system and our values are immensely attractive They believe that all we need to do is to contain sources of trouble and then in the end--not too distant an end either--our soft power will win through for us.
The Kissingerites believe, by contrast, that we are, as Romney quotes Kissinger, "VEAK!" We are "VEAK!" because our people are unwilling to send our soldiers to die in substantial numbers in distant places over lengthy periods of time for dubious geopolitical advantages. We are "VEAK!" because the media, members of congress, and occasionally presidents do not have the stomach to bomb and burn things down in ways that kill substantial numbers of civilians.
Since we are "VEAK!", the Kissingerites think, we need to be scary-weak. We need people to fear that we will respond irrationally and destructively to whatever is going on if it crosses our interests. We cannot be predictable. We need to be drunk and abusive, so that people know that they must tiptoe quietly around this.
The fact that pursuing such a Nixonian-Kissingerite foreign policy strategy of rationally acting irrational is unfit for any self-respecting American to adopt, and furthermore greatly undermines our most powerful foreign-policy instrument--our soft power--is something that the Kissingerites do not grasp. Why? Because they do not understand that we have the soft power and that it is very strong indeed.
Kissinger did not start the Kissingerite strain in Republican foreign policy. John Foster Dulles did. Neither "massive retaliation" nor Nixon's four-year extension of the Vietnam War to get in 1972 the agreement of 1968 nor supporting Pakistan in its attempt to kill everyone in Bangladesh with a college education nor letting the Argentine generals think they had a blank check nor George W. Bush's many misadventures have served us well. But at least George H.W. Bush was a Kennanite.
Romney: I'll step back on foreign policy: The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception that he has that his magnetism and his charm and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin, Chávez, and Ahmadinejad. And that they'll find we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us. And they'll stop doing bad things.
And it's an extraordinarily naive perception, and it has led to huge errors in North Korea, in Iraq, obviously in Iran, in Egypt, around the world.
My own view is that that the centerpiece of American foreign policy has to be strength. Everything I do will be calculated to increasing America's strength. When you stand by your allies, you increase your strength. When you attack your allies, you become weaker. When you stand by your principles, you get stronger. When you have a big military—that's bigger than anyone else's—you're stronger. [Unintelligible.]
When you have a strong economy, you build America's strength. For me, everything is about strength and communicating to people what is and is not acceptable. It's speaking softly but carrying a very, very, very big stick. And this president instead speaks loudly and carries a tiny stick. And that is, you know, that's not the right course for a foreign policy. I saw Dr. Kissinger in New York—you're not eating! [Audience laughs.]
Audience Member: I'm mesmerized! [unintelligible]
Romney: He's bored to tears. [Audience laughs.] I saw Dr. Kissinger; I said to him, "How are we perceived around the world?" And he said, "One word: VEAK!" [Audience laughs.]
We are weak, and that's how this president is perceived, by our friends and, unfortunately, by our foes. And it's no wonder that people like Kim Jong Un, the new leader of North Korea, announces a long-range missile test only a week after he said he wouldn't. Because, it's like, what's this president going to do about it? If you can't act, why, don't threaten.
[To another audience member with a question] Please.
Audience Member: [Asks about Iraq. (Garbled.)]
Romney: I'm just gonna taste this by the way. I just wanna show you how it's done: You take this in your fork…[Audience laughs.]…you put it in…That's good, that's good. [To audience member]: Please, go ahead.
Audience Member: If you get the call as president, and you had hostages… Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement, even before he became, was actually sworn in—
Audience Member: the hostages were released—
Romney: on the day of his inauguration, yeah.
Audience Member: So my question is, really, how can you sort of duplicate that scenario?
Romney: Ohhhh. [A few chuckles in audience.] I'm gonna ask you, how do I duplicate that scenario.
Audience Member: I think that had to do with the fact that the Iranians perceived Reagan would do something to really get them out. In other words [unintelligible]… and that's why I'm suggesting that something that you say over the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of the bomb is something that you would predict and I think that's something that could possibly resonate very well with American Republican voters.
Romney: I appreciate the idea. I can't—one of the other things that's frustrating to me is that at a typical day like this, when I do three or four events like this, the number of foreign policy questions that I get are between zero and one. And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq.
This president's failure to put in place a status forces agreement allowing 10-20,000 troops to stay in Iraq? Unthinkable! And yet, in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we have hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean that's—that was—that was the focus, and so him solving that made all the difference in the world.
I'm afraid today if you said, "We got Iran to agree to stand down a nuclear weapon," they'd go hold on. It's really a, but… by the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity...