Spanish eyes: Can Mitt Romney cut it when it comes to international diplomacy?
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Spanish eyes: Can Mitt Romney cut it when it comes to international diplomacy?

Washington : DC : USA | Oct 07, 2012 at 9:05 AM PDT
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White House hopeful Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney undoubtedly came out on top in Wednesday's first televised presidential debate, but did he once again show a weakness when it comes to international diplomacy?

On economic policy Romney more than held his own and seemed to wobble President Obama who looked a little punch drunk at times in the debate, but even talking about the fiscal policy didn't stop Romney upsetting another country.

He's already this year made remarks that upset the British during the Olympics and also called Russia America's greatest geopolitical foe, which didn't go down too well in Moscow. This time it was the Spanish that Mittens managed to insult, and right in the middle of the presidential debate.

In the debate he cited Spain as an example of country that was in financial difficulties because of extremely high government spending. Yes, Spain does have financial concerns, but anyone who had studied their situation for only a short time would realize that their difficulties are not down to excessive government spending. The Spanish were perplexed when Romney said "I don't want to go down the path of Spain," likening it to government spending under Obama, which he said had reached 42 per cent of the US economy.

The problems in Spain have less to do with government spending than with a property market bubble that burst. The truth is that Spanish government spending is lower than many of the better performing European countries, including Germany and Scandinavian states.

The Spanish were not pleased to hear their country being put down by the Republican presidential hopeful. Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria fumed, "What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy."

That Romney keeps making international diplomatic blunders might on the surface seem minor to many Republicans, some of whom might find it difficult to point to any geographical point on a map outside of the state they live in, never mind outside of the U.S., but international affairs are important when it comes to America's position, both politically and financially at home.

Romney's comments on Russia as not only an enemy of the U.S. but as its greatest enemy already has led Russian President Putin to say, in regard to Russia's opposition of U.S.- European missile defense plans, that they "strengthened Russia's positions in talks on this important and sensitive subject."

Such international diplomatic howlers can not be the norm for a U.S. president, and Romney will have to show the U.S. electorate and its international counterparts that he has the skills to keep America on course through increasingly choppy international affairs that include not only financial issues but matters of war and peace, too.

dipping into the sea
the hazy moon
might be reborn

Kyoshi Takahama

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