- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney penned a scathing critique of President Obama’s foreign policy in the pages of the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, saying the administration has failed to seize the moment took to intervene in crises around the globe, most recently in Russia and Ukraine.

“When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community — and to the White House — that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more,” Mr. Romney wrote in a piece titled “The Price of Failed Leadership.”

“That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion,” he wrote.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mr. Romney was met with ridicule — including from Secretary of State John Kerry, then a U.S. Senator — after he labeled Russia the top “geopolitical foe” of the United States.

“Folks: Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV,’ ” Mr. Kerry said at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a treaty recognizing Crimea as part of Russia Tuesday after voters there overwhelmingly approved a referendum to separate from Ukraine on Sunday. President Obama announced a new round of sanctions on Russian officials Monday in response to the unrest in the area and the White House has said that it will not recognize the results of the referendum.

“President Obama and Secretary of State [Hillary Rodham] Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe,” Mr. Romney wrote. “Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.”

“A chastened president and Secretary of State Kerry, a year into his job, can yet succeed, and for the country’s sake, must succeed,” Mr. Romney concluded. “Timing is of the essence.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul disputed Mr. Romney’s take.

“I think it forgets the historical processes we’ve seen in this part of the world for several decades,” Mr. McFaul said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” “President George W. Bush failed to stop Russia from invading Georgia. President Ronald Reagan failed to stop Russia and his [counterpart] in Poland, General Jaruzelski, from instituting martial law in Poland in 1981.

“And we can go all the way back to Eisenhower, who had a strategy of rollback and even rattled the swords of nuclear war should Russia, then the Soviet Union, go into Hungary, and they went in, in Hungary, in 1956,” Mr. McFaul continued. “Which is to say that in Eastern Europe, Russians, the Kremlin, have proven that when they want to, when they decide it’s in their national interest, they’ve been able to do so, and no president, Republican, Democrat, weak or strong, has been able to stop those aggressions.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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