Romney, however, did offer two hints about his thinking, which may be his own and not those of the conservative national security team assembled around him.
Take, for example, his answer Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes” when interviewer Scott Pelley asked him how he would decide to send U.S. forces into combat.
“It would be a very high hurdle,” Romney noted. Then, almost like a graduate student rattling off rules he had just memorized, he said, “No. 1, a very substantial American interest at stake. No. 2, a clear definition of our mission. No. 3, a clear definition of how we’ll know when our mission is complete. No. 4, providing the resources to make sure that we can carry out that mission effectively, overwhelming resources. And finally, a clear understanding of what will be left after we leave. All of those would have to be in place before I were to decide to deploy American military might in any foreign place.”
Think about past U.S. military interventions — the big ones such as Korea and Vietnam and the relatively smaller ones, the 1991 Gulf War and then Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 and perhaps Libya last year. Now apply Romney’s five-point formula. Korea was a quick response to an attack; Vietnam a slow, steady buildup after first steps failed.
The more recent ones work out in part, though once military action begins no one can say for sure “how we’ll know when our mission is complete” and “what will be left after we leave.”
Perhaps only the Gulf War hits them all because it was limited by then-President George H.W. Bush to driving Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
Now apply those five points to Syria, where Romney has been critical of President Obama’s hesitancy to supply arms to the Assad opposition. That’s a form of military action because you don’t drop U.S. arms in a country and not train troops on their use or manage how they are distributed. Then there is Iran, where Romney claims Obama has failed to prepare more vigorously for military action. Here Romney ignores what is clearly apparent to the Iranians: that the U.S. has moved more ships, aircraft, troops and equipment into the area and has been holding war games. Romney wants tougher rhetoric.
His other new proposal came Tuesday at the Clinton Global Initiative. He introduced his “Prosperity Pacts” as a novel approach to foreign aid.
It would be.
Though the U.S. Agency for International Development has programs providing private-sector grants and loans, Romney wants that aid, as well as aid for democracy, rule of law and other institutional projects, to be tied to a recipient country removing “barriers to investment and trade and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurism.”