COMMENTARY | Perhaps presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would not sound so uninformed in the area of foreign policy if he weren't so, well... uninformed.
According to CNN, in the tradition of all presidents since the 1950s, President Barack Obama will extend intelligence briefings to include his soon-to-be presidential opponent and his campaign (those who pass security clearances) following Romney's nomination and acceptance in August. Maybe Romney will now stop sounding as if he doesn't know what's going on when he makes suggestions that mirror what's already being done by the Obama administration.
Some might wonder at the wisdom of such a move, but if Romney were to win the election in November, he would have just two-and-a-half months to get up to speed on the state of international and domestic affairs by the time he took office. Domestic and foreign affairs, policy, and diplomacy, which are cornerstones of national security, are not light subject matter that a president should be attempting to accumulate and process while transitioning into office. Better to be aware of the myriad sensitive problems and potential security trouble spots going in.
Spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Shawn Turner told CNN's Security Clearance: "It's a long-standing practice for presidential candidates and select advisers to be provided intelligence briefings following the party's nominating convention. During the last presidential campaign, all the candidates began receiving briefings in September following the conventions."
Suggestion: A special briefing should be included with the first intel share that explains that Russia is no longer the Soviet Union and they are no longer our "foes." Perhaps those handling the briefings could even include former Secretary of State Colin Powell's phone number if further explanation on the subject is warranted.
But not knowing that the Soviet Union ceased to be in 1991 is a bit of ignorance that can be easily rectified (even though difficult to understand from a member of a political party that nearly deifies the president that huffed and puffed and blew down the Berlin Wall). More of a potential danger to international peace is the Iranian situation.
Romney has attempted to appear as more of a hard-liner on Iran and its nuclear program, claiming the Obama administration hasn't done enough to ensure Iran does not get access to or the capability of manufacturing nuclear weapons. He has even gone so far as to say that the policies of supporting increased diplomatic and economic sanctions were "feckless" in a Washington Post Op-Ed. But as to his suggestions as to what he [Romney] would do, Post writer Eugene Robinson outlined that Obama had done everything that Romney suggests should be done (except for a trip to Jerusalem and sending an added aircraft carrier to the region).
Maybe if Romney had been briefed, he might not have bothered with such a ham-handed op-ed.
But, then, Robinson didn't seem to have a problem finding the information. So why would Romney produce a to-do list that read like a copy of the Obama administration's actions thus far? Ignorance? Or do Romney and his advisors (surely his foreign policy specialists saw the Op-Ed before he sent it in) rely on the old standby that if he's saying it, those reading it will assume it must be true. If the Romney camp truly believes that, they have apparently forgotten that they are politicians, where it is a public maxim that everything written or spoken by any one of them is suspect.
And if Romney and camp do not need facts to hinder what they believe -- or what they want voters to believe, then the intelligence reports from the White House probably won't make a lot of difference.
According to Turner, briefings typically begin after the White House initiates proceedings in the summer before the party conventions. Former President Bush reached out to both the McCain and Obama campaigns in July 2008 to begin the process. "This starts a lengthy process by the director of national intelligence which involves obtaining security clearances, and establishing logistical procedures and determining briefing protocols."
Because of Romney's presumptive status, the Obama administration began preparing this week to reach out to the Republican candidate. Turner told CNN that the Romney campaign had yet to ask for any briefings.
Hopefully by the time the intelligence briefings begin, there will be no need to call in Gen. Powell...