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Mitt Romney Explains The World

By all accounts Mitt Romney's 2012 bid for the presidency is moving full speed ahead. Last month, he gave a major address in which he laid out his view of international politics--and boy was it convoluted. Channeling the business jargon common at places like Bain Capital, the management consulting firm he founded, Romney tried to break down world politics as if he were giving a PowerPoint strategy presentation to a corporate board. Here he is, describing "the four nations" of geopolitics as if they were firms in a market:

There are four competing nations or groups of nations, representing four different ways of ways of life, that are vying to lead the world before the end of this century.

One is the world’s democracies, led by America. Our strategy is based on two principles: free enterprise and individual liberty. These have led us to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

China represents a different strategy. Theirs is also based on two principles: free enterprise is one of them. They witnessed the bankruptcy of communism first hand, and have adopted free enterprise like it was their own. As a result, hundreds of millions of their poor have been lifted from poverty. But their second strategic dimension is not freedom, it is authoritarianism.

Another competitor is Russia. Like China, their strategy is also based on authoritarianism. But unlike China, their economic might is derived not from industry, but from energy. They seek to control the energy of the world, filling their treasury and emptying everyone else’s as we pay for what they have in abundance.

The fourth strategy is that of the Jihadists. By means of escalating violence, they intend to cause the collapse of the other three competing visions, dragging the entire world back into a medieval dictatorship ruled by Mullahs and Ayatollahs.

Of these four competing strategies, notice that only one includes freedom. Only if America succeeds will freedom endure. Do not imagine for a single moment that China, Russia and the Jihadists have no intention of surpassing America and leading the world. Each is entirely convinced that it can do so.

Weirdly, having divided the world into four forces, Romney threw in an extra force, gratis:

Freedom is threatened not just by those who aspire to world leadership, but also by the rogue and malevolent. North Korea has made it abundantly clear that they are not only intent on perfecting nuclear weapons, but they are contemptuous of the concerns of the United States and the world at large. It was no accident that they launched their missile while the President was addressing nuclear non-proliferation, and executed their nuclear test to coincide with Memorial Day.

So what would Romney's foreign-policy worldview look like if it were depicted visually in a PowerPoint presentation? I asked a consultant friend to put together a mock-up:

(Click here to view the full-sized image.)

As you can see, it's totally absurd. For all that he brags about the economic problem-solving skills he developed as CEO of Bain, they don't automatically translate into an advanced grasp of world politics. That's something we should probably keep in mind as we decide whether or not to make him CEO-in-Chief.

Barron YoungSmith is a reporter-researcher at The New Republic.