TAMPA, Florida — Two-hundred-and-two words. That was the total length of the foreign-policy section of Mitt Romney's speech Thursday night in Tampa as he accepted the Republican nomination for U.S. president. If you blinked you would have missed it. Everyone knows (because it has been stated repeatedly) that this isn't going to be a foreign-policy election. But Aug. 30's speech by Romney was still remarkable -- a content-free discussion of the global challenges facing the United States and Romney's foreign-policy vision. While Republican vacuousness on foreign policy this cycle is not a new development, Romney's acceptance speech was the apogee of the party's apparent pursuit of national security nothingness.
The few scant morsels of content that Romney did offer on national security and foreign policy were either highly misleading or simply untrue. He once again accused President Barack Obama of conducting an "apology tour" after taking office -- a charge that has repeatedly been debunked. And he claimed that the United States is less secure today because of the failure "to slow Iran's nuclear threat" -- an assertion that is belied by revelations that the United States was involved in developing the Stuxnet computer virus, which set back the Iranian nuclear effort, by some estimates, 18 months to two years. Moreover, while criticizing the president for holding talks with Iran, Romney declined to mention that Obama has dramatically increased sanctions against Iran, contributing to Tehran's economic and diplomatic isolation. Romney once again accused the United States of throwing Israel "under the bus," which I suppose is all in the eye of the beholder, but to most regional observers -- including Israeli deputy prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak -- is simply inaccurate. He claimed once again that the United States has walked away from "our friends in Poland" and "our missile defense commitments" -- another charge that simply doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
Earlier in his speech, Romney trotted out his claim that Obama's "trillion-dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs and also put our security at greater risk." But since these cuts were initiated by House Republicans during last year's debt-limit debacle (and voted for by a congressman named Paul Ryan), Romney's criticism rang particularly hollow.
And that was basically it. Nothing on Afghanistan, where approximately 80,000 U.S. soldiers continue to fight a war against the Taliban -- a war that Romney supports. No mention of the troops in general. Nothing on Pakistan. Nothing on Iraq. Nothing on terrorism -- except to offer a rare bit of praise to Obama for ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Virtually nothing on China, which Romney has labeled a currency manipulator. Nothing on the rest of Asia. I suppose Europe can revel in the fact that Romney didn't take his familiar tack of using America's strongest set of allies as a punch line -- though, once again, the country that Romney has called America's No. 1 geopolitical foe, Russia, once again came in for attack.