The national media praised Romney for "hugging close" to Obama's position, but Parry correctly notes that Romney's "reference to the Syrian chaos as 'an opportunity' suggests that his more moderate rhetoric is just another ploy to deceive voters and win the election, not a real abandonment of neocon strategies."
"In that sense, the new 'moderate Mitt' is less a sign of a neocon retreat from his earlier bellicosity than a Trojan Horse to be wheeled onto the White House grounds on Jan. 20, 2013, so the neocons can pour forth from its hollowed-out belly and regain full control of U.S. foreign policy.
"So, the neocons don't really mind that Romney has suddenly abandoned many of their cherished positions, such as extending the Afghan War beyond 2014 and returning U.S. troops to Iraq. The neocons understand the political need for Romney to calm independent voters who fear that he may be another George W. Bush.
"In Monday's debate, Romney said, 'Syria's an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea. It's the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a -- a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us.'
"The 'route to the sea' comment -- with its faint echo of a distant time in geopolitics -- represented proof that Romney lacks even a rudimentary knowledge of world geography, since much of Iran's southern territory fronts on the Persian Gulf and Iran could only reach Syria by transiting Iraq. Syria and Iran have no common border."
Another point that Parry emphasizes, one that was largely ignored by mainstream media was the revelation by Romney that he finds a "crucial connection between the neocon desire for 'regime change' in Syria and the neocon determination to strangle Israel's close-in enemies, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah." Furthermore, Parry writes:
"Romney's demand for a new Syrian government of 'responsible people' further suggests that the Republican presidential nominee shares the core neocon fantasy that the United States can simply remove one unsavory Middle East dictator and install a pro-Western, Israel-friendly leader who will then shut off aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza."
In short, Romney's foreign policy is not complicated. It is simply "make the Middle East Israel-friendly," the Bush-era neoconservatives' mantra.
That mantra requires that Romney cling to what Parry calls, his "peculiar sense of geography," which gives him the freedom to keep thinking, and saying that "Iran was some landlocked country that needed Syria as a 'route to the sea.'" The route phrase has a nice poetic feel to it. So what if it is factually incorrect?
Why should Romney learn Middle East geography? If he reaches the White House, Romney's primary foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor, a Bush era holdover, will get his marching orders from Tel Aviv. Senor knows how to take orders. He was the U.S. public relations officer in the early days of the Iraq occupation. Public relations people know they must tell the public what the bosses want people to hear. Who need geography when you have Dan Senor serving as minister of the department of "make the Middle East Israel-friendly."
And speaking of government ministers, here is one more thing before we enter the final week of this campaign. It is an insight that comes from the British-oriented cultural world of Harry Potter, where "ministers" of governments run things.
Who better to report on the American foreign policy debate than a Potter authority, who is, naturally, from the prime audience J.K. Rowlings had in mind when she wrote the Harry Potter books.
Writing in Slate, Katie Rolphe reports that her "Harry Potter-obsessed 9-year-old" daughter watched the Obama-Romney foreign police debate "entirely through the lens of Harry Potter."
"It started in the last debate when she said of Mitt Romney, after hearing him talk for a few minutes: 'He's Umbridge!' And of course I saw exactly what she meant, the brittle, lacquered, self-satisfied smile of the ambitious Dark Arts professor and passionate ministry bureaucrat, Dolores Umbridge. The saccharine, almost-girlish chuckle. The proclamations she issues at Hogwarts, the self-important talk about 'the ministry this' and 'the ministry that.'"
Of course, Romney is Dolores Umbridge. The former governor and Bain corporate executive was just one of the Republican pack of conservatives running for the nomination, until the Republican big money donors decided he was the most pliable candidate and rallied behind him.