Rebuttal of Nina Hachigian’s false claims


Former Clinton Administration NSC staffer Nina Hachigian, who is now a “senior fellow” at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, has launched an attack on the Romney-Ryan ticket consisting mostly of false claims. Hachigian claims that:

“To hear the GOP tell it, the United States is an island — and it’s us against the world.”

But Republicans have never said this. They have said that the US needs to stand by its allies and play hardball with its adversaries. And that’s a commonsense foreign policy.

“For starters, exports are a necessary and growing source of new U.S. jobs… (…) The Obama administration has focused intensely on this — helping small businesses find markets, persuading other countries to open more to U.S. goods and services and pushing for specific commercial deals.”

Also false. The Obama administration has not negotiated (or even begun talks on) a single new FTA. Not even one. By contrast, the EU and China have, within the last 4 years alone, signed many FTAs and begun talks on many others (with countries which they don’t yet have an FTA with). The sole 3 FTAs ratified during Obama’s time – with Panama, Colombia, and SK – were all negotiated by the Bush Administration. Mitt Romney has vowed to seek new FTAs if elected President.

“Market-opening negotiations are matters of diplomacy and economic statecraft, requiring an appreciation of other countries’ domestic politics. The budget that Ryan championed decimates these capacities.”

Also false. The Ryan budget only partially reverses the rapid growth (doubling) of the State Department’s budget that has occurred during the last 3.5 years. It does not decimate America’s diplomatic capabilities.

“Romney, for his part, insulted Japan, the world’s third largest economy, and his gaffe-filled tour abroad did not touch down in emerging economic powerhouses, like Brazil, or fast-growing U.S. export markets in Asia.”

Only partly true. Romney’s tour abroad was not “gaffe-filled”; he said truths that needed to be said: that London was poorly prepared to organize the Olympic Games (which Romney knows how to organize); that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital; and that the reason why the Israelis are wealthy and the Palestinians are poor is because the Israelis work hard, while the Palestinians are lazy lay-abouts who do nothing but attack Israel and blame it for their problems. In short, the Palestinians have no one but themselves to blame. Mitt Romney merely pointed these inconvenient truths out.

“G20 leaders’ summits are actual negotiating sessions, and President Barack Obama’s leadership helped save the world economy from free-fall in 2009.”

False. Obama did not save the world economy from a free-fall; the world economy remains mired in a deep crisis to this day, and Obama’s (and many other countries’ leaders’) policies have only deepened and prolonged this crisis, just like the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression. Countries whose leaders have embraced free-market economics instead of Keynesianism, such as Canada and Australia, have done relatively well.

“Third, foreign policy affects the domestic economy. Sept. 11 taught us that. So did the Iraq war—we could really use that $3 trillion right about now.”

The Iraqi war did not cost $3 trillion. Not even close. It cost barely $800 bn over 8 years, and it was a justified war.

“Romney and his advisers’ loose talk of war in Iran could drive up oil prices, for example, harming middle-class Americans, as well as lining the pockets of Russia, Romney’s nominee for “No. 1 geopolitical foe.””

Loose talk of war in Iran? I’m not sure about any war in Iran, but a bombing of Iran is right now the ONLY solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, as explained in more detail by Eric Edelman, Andrew Krepinevich, and Evan Braden Montgomery in two excellent Foreign Affairs articles. Even Obama’s own UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, has recently admitted that the US is not interested in negotiations which lead to nothing. That is not to say that war with Iran is a great idea, it’s just the least bad of the available options.

“The United States should also ratify the Law of the Sea agreement, to give U.S. companies the legal assurance they need when exploring for new resources. But that treaty is stalled because Republican Senators oppose it.”

Wrong. The LOST agreement would be decisively UNFAVORABLE for the United States for the reasons listed on this website on June 15th and 16th. There would be no gain from ratifying it, and American companies don’t need it. Republican Senators are right to oppose it; it belongs in the dustbin of history.

“We have a complex, highly interdependent relationship with the world’s second largest economy. Our relationship has economic upsides for the U.S.—China is our fastest growing export market, for example—but also significant downsides, including intellectual property theft and market restrictions.”

China is actually the #1 geopolitical and military foe of, and a huge security threat to, the US. As for intellectual property theft, the Obama admin has done nothing meaningful to combat it, even though 70% of a company’s value is its intellectual property’s value. And although China might be “our fastest growing export market”, it still accounts for just 7% of American exports.

“Romney is talking tough on China on the campaign trail. But what’s his plan for continuing to reap the economic benefits and getting Beijing’s strategic collaboration on North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs? Designating China a currency manipulator on Day 1 of his presidency will antagonize China’s leaders from Day 1. Then what?”

China’s “strategic collaboration on North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs”? Please. China is ACTIVELY AIDING both of these rogue regimes. It has supplied ICBMs and transporter-erector-launchers to North Korea, is Iran’s biggest oil buyer, and continues to shield both regimes in the UNSC from serious sanctions. China does this because it is hostile to the US, as are these regimes. There’s no way that the US can somehow get China to “collaborate” on bringing those regimes to order.

As for designating China a currency manipulator, which it is (as Obama himself admitted in 2008), this would not have serious repercussions, despite many liberal and even some conservative folks predicting a trade war. But most importantly, Obama’s own Treasury Department has, in its reports, called China a currency manipulator.

But the biggest argument against Hachigian’s claim is that Mitt Romney is extremely unlikely to designate China a currency manipulator, let alone to play hardball with it.

This is because Romney surrounds himself with pro-China softies such as Robert Zoellick (the frontrunner for Secretary of State in a Romney Administration) and Richard Williamson, who calls Hachigian’s fellow ex Clinton admin official Kenneth Lieberthal “a friend”, praises him to the high Heavens, and praises his book on China. According to respected Washington Times columnist Bill Gertz, the Romney camp believes that because Russia is a threat, China is not. They’ve very soft on China.

“Finally, without foreign policy experience at the top, an administration will be hard-pressed to make smart budget choices. Romney’s stated goal of dramatically increasing military spending reveals a misguided Cold War-era belief that the U.S. can be perfectly safe if it has enough large weapons.”

This is the most ridiculous garbage in Hachigian’s entire screed. Cutting defense spending (which has already been cut deeply and is on schedule for even deeper cuts) is not a “smart budget choice”, it’s a blunder. Romney does not advocate “dramatically increasing military spending”, just slightly increase the base defense budget to 4% of GDP from today’s 3.47% of GDP, thus increasing it from $535 bn today to $611 bn in FY2014 (the first year for which a Romney Administration could propose a budget).

Furthermore, Romney’s desire to slightly increase defense spending is not motivated by any Cold-War-era beliefs, but rather by the fact that a strong, second-to-none, well-funded US military (instead of one being used as a piggybank for unconstitutional domestic spending, as Obama has treated the military) is the sine qua non of a secure America. It won’t solve all security problems, but it’s absolutely necessary and indispensable. It’s the sine qua non.

“A strong defense is indeed vital. But if we want to remain a powerful nation for decades to come, those extra dollars are better spent educating our children, so they can thrive in a competitive world. Ryan’s budget slashes education programs.”

The US is already spending more on education – in absolute numbers and per capita – than any other country in the world. Federal education spending has splurged over the last 11 years. Yet, American schools have not improved. That’s because the federal government is involved in education. If America is to be competitive, the federal Department of Education and federal spending on schools need to be abolished completely and the issue returned to the states. States, in turn, need to rein in teachers’ unions and lazy students.

Federal spending on education is also unconstitutional.

Over 30 years of federal meddling with education have only worsened it. It’s time to reverse course and return the issue to the states.

Hachigian is not wrong about everything she wrote, though. It is true that this Republican ticket is the first since at least 1948 on which neither candidate has any meaningful foreign policy experience. Because I have always believed that foreign policy would be important, I advocated picking Jon Kyl, rather than Paul Ryan, for Vice President. It turns out that I was right all along.

It is also regrettable that Romney did not, during his tour abroad, visit any emerging economic powers such as Brazil, or Asian economic powerhouses like Japan and South Korea.

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