By Viola Gienger - Mar 30, 2012 2:10 PM CT
A former Democratic national security adviser assailed Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney for lacking a grasp of foreign policy and said the former Massachusetts governor would return the U.S. to the policies of George W. Bush.
“If we take seriously what he has been saying in the course of the campaign, we have every reason to be very worried,” former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “He probably subscribes to the notions articulated by his Republican predecessor,” George W. Bush, Brzezinski said.
Romney is surrounding himself with advisers from the Bush administration, and he doesn’t display a “broad grasp of what is unique about this century, how it differs from the preceding one,” said Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser.
In Brzezinski’s view, the best candidate to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a second term for Obama would be Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and former presidential nominee.
Chuck Hagel, a former Senate Republican from Nebraska, also would be “awfully good,” he said.
Romney has faced criticism from Republican rivals as well as Democrats for comments such as his description this week of Russia as “without question, our number-one geopolitical foe.”
His campaign advisers have included Robert Joseph, a former White House and State Department official under Bush who helped coordinate a white paper on what the Bush administration said was Saddam Hussein’s “quest for nuclear weapons.” No evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program was found after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.
Romney’s comments on Iran, Brzezinski said, “are just so casual, and at the same time so militant, that one has to wonder whether he’ll feel bound by what he said in the course of the campaign.”
Brzezinski, an early supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama, also said he’s been disappointed by what he said is the president’s failure to capitalize on his understanding of foreign policy.
Brzezinski, author of the book “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power,” published in January, said the U.S. in recent decades has missed opportunities to generate the political will and make the necessary sacrifices to avoid a slide into what he says would be a chaotic world marred by sporadic violence.
Obama hasn’t been able “to set a firm course of action and to, in effect, combine his tendency to sermonize with his capacity to strategize,” Brzezinski, who now serves as a counselor and trustee for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington policy research organization, said in the interview.
Iran’s nuclear program is one area in which Obama is being backed into a corner, Brzezinski said.
Israeli officials have said time is running out for diplomacy or financial sanctions before it’s too late to use a military strike that might prevent Iran from developing the ability to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says it’s pursuing nuclear power solely to generate electricity and for medical research.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appear to be trying to “maneuver us into a situation in which we feel we have to support them,” risking Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, Brzezinski said.
Patience on Iran
The U.S. should “be patient in pursuing” an agreement with Iran, while extending its nuclear deterrence pledge to Israel and Persian Gulf nations, the former national security adviser said.
“We have done that successfully in protecting South Korea and Japan from North Korea,” he said. “We did the same thing for decades in Europe against the Soviet Union. We have deterred the would-be nuclear threats, but we didn’t preempt and go to war in a preventive attack.”
A pre-emptive attack on Iran to stop its nuclear program “will produce disasters now,” he said.