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Mitt Romney, Neoconservative?

Miit Romney makes “no apologies” for demanding a “new American Century.”

Mitt Romney called his campaign manifesto “No Apologies,” which is transparently related to his oft-repeated allegation that Pres. Obama (as Romney put it in his acceptance speech at the RNC, began his presidency “with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.”

It’s true, course. America has overthrown dictators. It has also overthrown (or helped local thugs overthrow) democratically elected (but insufficiently pro-American) governments and imposed (reliably pro-American) dictators. (Guatemala, Iran, Chile leap to mind, but don’t get me started.) But if course, it’s vital that no one ever apologize for those cases and, if possible (and oh, yes, it is possible) to pretend they never happened.

As far as the apology tour nonsense, Politifact gave that statement a “pants on fire.” and the Washington Post Fact Checker agreed that the kind of balanced, we’ve-had-misunderstandings statements that Obama made don’t constitute “apologies.” But if you want to see the list of alleged “apologies,” and decide for yourself, Politifact has them. In any case, Romney promises that he will never apologize for America (“because I believe in America,”) and even named his book after that promise.

Is that a great promise? My mother raised me to apologize if I did something wrong (even if I still “believe” I’m a good person). Is the “no apology” creed a statement that the United States has never done anything wrong, or just a statement it should never apologize (or its president should never apologize on its behalf) if it did do something wrong?

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Now comes John Judis of the New Republic to take the No Apologism to the next level, as evidence that Romney is Neoconservative. Romney constantly invokes the gauzy non-concept of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is one of the foundations on which neocons build their case for U.S. “regime change” interventions around the world. Romney constantly stands up for the urgency of staring another “American century” (another gauzy euphemism). The neocon organization that helped prod former Pres. George W. Bush into “Operation Iraqi Freedom” called itself the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Romney expresses no regrets about the Iraq invasion. Romney has PNACers and other members of the necon movement among his advisers.

Judis suggests that in his 1994 U.S. Senate run, Romney came across as more of an isolationist, but Judis believes Romney is a neocon now. Here are the first paragraphs of Judis’ piece:

“IN MITT ROMNEY’S 2010 campaign book, No Apology: The Case for National Greatness, the former Massachusetts governor cites twelve countries that the United States has invaded for the ’cause of freedom.’ Readers expecting to learn about World War II or the downfall of Slobodan Milošević might be surprised by Romney’s list. The dozen include not only the Philippines, where the United States sought to supplant the Spanish as imperial rulers in 1898 and then fought a brutal 14-year war against Filipino independence forces, but also, astonishingly, the Dominican Republic, where Lyndon Johnson sent the Marines in 1965 to prevent the return of an elected government toppled by a military junta.

“One person who would be especially perplexed by this list is Mitt Romney, or at least the Mitt Romney of 18 years ago. When he challenged then-Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney criticized the intervention in Haiti and laid down strict rules for military action. The Boston Globe wrote, ‘Romney leans slightly toward an isolationist stance.’ But as a presidential candidate, Romney has, yet again, changed positions.

“Romney’s recent gung-ho romanticizing of America’s imperial calling might simply be ascribed to ignorance. But a close reading of his books and speeches suggest that the one-time quasi-isolationist is in the grips of a very different ideology. Romney has embraced a sharply defined worldview that calls for the United States to engage in a no-holds-barred struggle for global hegemony against the forces of darkness threatening Americans’ freedom. First among evils is Russia (our ‘number one geopolitical foe’), followed by China, and Iranian and other Islamists who want to establish a ‘caliphate with global reach and power.’ To defeat them, Americans should use any means available, including what Romney euphemistically dubs ‘interrogation techniques.'”