Romney’s new freedom agenda draws praise from Bushworld

BuzzFeed reports: Mitt Romney’s foreign policy address offered the clearest articulation yet of his relationship to George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda, offering a vision distinctly shaped by Bush’s views, but tempered by difficult lessons of 11 years of American war in the Muslim world.

Bush’s foreign policy legacy, at a low when he departed from office in the throes of an unpopular occupation of Iraq and deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, is in the early stages of a rehabilitation, at least in some circles. Bush’s defenders see the Arab Spring as the outcome of his belief in democracy in the region and, some argue, his invasion of Iraq — a notion most of the the regional leaders of the Arab Spring reject. And they note that his failures to resolve the standoff between Israel and the Palestinian leadership was followed by Obama’s similar failure, while Obama has unexpectedly embraced some of Bush’s more muscular national security tools.

But it was Romney’s speech, and its echoes of the Freedom Agenda, that drew rave reviews from some of the leading avatars and supporters of the clear and combative foreign policy of Bush’s first term.

“Terrific, comprehensive speech by Gov. Romney,” Bush’s first term Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted “He knows America’s role in the world should be as a leader not as a spectator.”

Romney’s speech offers a new Republican articulation of the Bush doctrine of moral clarity, wielded — as Romney said — “wisely, with solemnity and without false pride” to “make the world better—not perfect, but better.”

“What’s not to like?” asked Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, a leading foreign policy hawk and backer of Bush’s war in Iraq, who called the speech “kinder, gentler neocon.”

Kristol’s fellow travelers on the neoconservative right were ebullient. [Continue reading…]

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