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Team Romney: The Obama White House is unstable and its policies are dangerous

The resignation of President Barack Obama’s chief of staff shows that the White House is unstable and its national security policies remain dangerous, a top surrogate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told The Cable today. "This unexpected move of Bill Daley out points to a lack of stability," said former Senator Jim Talent in ...

Richard Ellis/Getty Images
Richard Ellis/Getty Images

The resignation of President Barack Obama's chief of staff shows that the White House is unstable and its national security policies remain dangerous, a top surrogate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told The Cable today.

"This unexpected move of Bill Daley out points to a lack of stability," said former Senator Jim Talent in a Tuesday interview.

The resignation of President Barack Obama’s chief of staff shows that the White House is unstable and its national security policies remain dangerous, a top surrogate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told The Cable today.

"This unexpected move of Bill Daley out points to a lack of stability," said former Senator Jim Talent in a Tuesday interview.

Talent, who is one of Romney’s closest advisors on national security, also harshly criticized Obama’s decision to revamp U.S. military strategy, which he announced at the Pentagon on Jan. 5. The new strategy review, released only weeks ahead of Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request, calls for a "smaller and leaner" military and backs off from previous strategy documents that mandated the U.S. military maintain the capability to fight two major wars at the same time.

"I think it’s going to encourage provocative actions around the world," said Talent. "It’s a signal that America’s not going to continue exercising a leadership role, it’s very dangerous. And you know that one of the amazing things about it is that it’s explicitly a budget-driven decision, in other words there’s no pretense that this is a change based on strategic analysis."

When announcing the new defense strategy, Obama said, "The tide of war is receding" — but the Romney team doesn’t see it that way at all.

"That sends the wrong message, it encourages other countries to believe that they can provoke and challenge us, and it will end up costing us more money," said Talent. "It’s so much an explicit confession of bankruptcy in terms of defense policy, I almost don’t know how to respond to it."

In fact, Talent said that Obama’s strategic review is more damaging than the military cuts made by President Bill Clinton‘s administration following the end of the Cold War.

"That two-war standard was continued in the post-Cold War era by the Clinton administration and was deemed necessary in the 1990s — and that was before the 9/11 attacks, that was before the rise of Chinese power, and that was before Russia reassumed a more aggressive posture," said Talent. "So if it was necessary according to President Clinton in the 1990s before those additional risks … how could it not be necessary now?"

Talent laid some of the top foreign policy priorities in a Romney administration, framing them as areas where it was necessary to fix Obama’s missteps. These include a new policy to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, the importance of channeling China in a direction of peaceful competition rather than aggression, the need to reestablish the strength of traditional allies, the need for the United States to play a larger leadership role in the international community, and the need to reverse Obama-era defense cuts and restore military strength.

"Governor Romney believes that the Obama administration has pursued a policy of weakness across the spectrum of areas," Talent said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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