One of the more persistent criticisms of President Obama's conduct of foreign policy is that he is insufficiently supportive of U.S. allies - insensitive to their needs and willing to trash them in pursuit of other objectives. Fortunately for the president, Mitt Romney has quickly established himself as a candidate willing to insult U.S. allies as well.
The latest kerfluffle is over Japan, as Josh Rogin reports:
"We are not Japan," the presumptive Republican nominee told donors at a $2,500-a-plate fundraiser Thursday. "We are not going to be a nation that suffers in decline and distress for a decade or a century. We're on the cusp of a very different economic future than the one people have seen over the past three years."
Japan experts on both sides of the Pacific told The Cable that Romney's offhand assertion that Japan has been in decline for "a century" isn't a fair characterization of a nation that emerged from the ashes of World War II to build the world's second- (now third-) largest economy on a small island with few natural resources.
Moreover, they worry that Romney is needlessly insulting the face-conscious Japanese and giving them the impression that is he wins in November, his administration won't appreciate the importance of America's top alliance in the East at a time when the United States is attempting a diplomatic and military "pivot" to Asia.
Oh please - how can we presume anything about a Romney administration's Asia policy from an off-the-cuff remark at a fundraiser? The irony here is that this likely would have passed without a mention had Romney's advisers not worked themselves into a tremendous lather about all of Obama's perceived slights against U.S. allies. Obviously, U.S. officials should speak respectfully about American allies in public or on the record, but the fetishization of the alliance system is a partisan absurdity - one that Romney himself is now putting to bed.