The Cable

Obama campaign calls Romney a foreign policy flip-flopper

In advance of tonight's GOP foreign policy debate, the Obama campaign has put out a memo identifying all the ways the presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has "flip-flopped" on the major foreign policy issues of the day.

Romney's "penchant for changing positions is of particular concern on matters of national security," Obama for American campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in a memo released ahead of tonight's CNN-AEI-Heritage debate in Washington. "A Commander-in-Chief only gets one chance to get it right. But Mitt Romney has been on all sides of the key foreign policy issues facing our nation today."

The memo draws attention to Romney's differing statements on Afghanistan, accuses him of having five different positions on Libya, and attacks Romney's statements criticizing President Barack Obama for declaring that he would seek to kill extremists on both sides of the Pakistani border.

"On Libya, Romney gave a series of convoluted statements - supportive and critical of military action, and for and against the removal of Qaddafi," Messina wrote. "On Afghanistan, while declining to outline his own strategy to wind down the war, Romney has been for and against a timetable to withdraw our troops. Romney criticized the President for making clear he would go after terrorists in Pakistan if the Pakistanis couldn't or wouldn't - a strategy that ultimately resulted in the elimination of Osama bin Laden."

The Obama campaign memo also criticized Romney for not spelling out a specific way forward in Iraq and identified other alleged Romney foreign policy flip-flops, such as his position on imposing trade tariffs on China. The memo says that Romney criticized trade tariffs on China when Obama supported them, but later pledged to use tariffs to punish China for anti-competitive behavior.

"Past is never present with Mitt Romney -- he will say and stand for anything to win," the memo states. "The only surprise tonight will be if Mitt Romney doesn't deny his record on another key issue."

The memo is one more sign that the Obama campaign is resigned to the fact that Romney is the most likely GOP candidate to face the president in the general election and is concentrating its attention on Romney alone.

Asked for a response by The Cable, Romney for President spokesperson Andrea Saul sent along this:

"President Obama's feckless foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries, weakened our allies, and threatens to break faith with our military. His naïve approach to Iran has allowed the ayatollahs to come to the brink of a nuclear weapon. He has repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus. And his failure to show any kind of leadership during the recent Super Committee negotiations may saddle our military with a trillion dollars in defense cuts that his own Secretary of Defense called ‘devastating.'"

The Cable

Cracks in the reset? U.S. stops honoring arms treaty with Russia

The State Department announced today that it would stop fulfilling its obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with respect to Russia, in retaliation for Russia's 2007 decision to stop honoring that treaty altogether.

"This announcement in the CFE Treaty's implementation group comes after the United States and NATO allies have tried over the past four years to find a diplomatic solution following Russia's decision in 2007 to cease implementation with respect to all other 29 CFE States," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "Since then, Russia has refused to accept inspections and ceased to provide information to other CFE Treaty parties on its military forces, as required by the treaty."

The treaty, which was signed at the very end of the Cold War in 1990, was meant to impose limits on key categories of conventional weapons placed in Europe by NATO and Russia.

Russia suspended its observance of the CFE treaty in 2007: It claimed that NATO enlargement had resulted in the organization breaching treaty limits, objected to NATO member states' efforts to link the treaty to a Russian troop presence in Georgia and Moldova, and argued that U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe constituted a violation of the treaty.

Nuland was actually the administration's lead official on negotiating with the Russians regarding the CFE before she was named the new State Department spokeswoman. A year of U.S.-Russian negotiations on the treaty broke down last May, a month before Nuland returned to Washington. She said that the United States will continue to honor the treaty with all states, except Russia.

"We will resume full treaty implementation regarding Russia, if Russia resumes implementation of its treaty obligations," she said. "The United States remains firmly committed to revitalizing conventional arms control in Europe."

But critics on Capitol Hill said that the State Department's move is not likely to convince Russia to come back to the negotiating table or resume fulfilling its treaty obligations.

"The Obama administration has adopted a limited countermeasure that is too late and too weak.... Since Russia refuses to end its occupation of Georgia, there is little point in attempting to bring it back into compliance with its obligations under the CFE Treaty," a senior GOP Senate aide told The Cable

"Moreover, the Obama decision to continue to provide U.S. data to all other CFE Parties does not mirror Russian data denial to all parties, nor will it be effective, since Moscow will likely obtain data from several CFE parties provided by the United States. Such a move undermines effective efforts to answer noncompliance of the CFE Treaty particularly, and shows the extent to which the Obama administration lacks a credible policy in Europe."