In a House Intelligence Committee hearing today, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright formally apologized to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), for mocking his 2012 comments identifying Russia as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe.”
Romney’s comments, made when he was the Republican nominee for President, sparked a tidal wave of scorn from Democrats, including then-President Barack Obama. Obama infamously slammed Romney at one of their debates, saying “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back — The Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
Albright, who served during President Bill Clinton’s administration, added her own criticism, saying that Romney was “living in a different century,” and had “little understanding of what is actually going on in the 21st century.”
Albright sang a different tune at today’s hearing, which focused on the global rise of autocratic regimes, admitting that she and others had “underestimated” the Russian threat, and that Romney had been “prescient” about how Russia continues to be a serious threat to American interests.
“I personally owe an apology to now-Senator Romney, because I think that we underestimated what was going on in Russia,” said Albright. “I was on the CIA external advisory board, there was no question that less money was being put into Russian language and what was going on in Russia.”
Regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin, Albright noted Putin was a former KGB agent who had “played a weak hand very well” and “put [Russia] back on the scene.”
The Free Beacon noted several other top Democrat advisers who have similarly admitted their criticism of Romney was unfair, including Paul Begala, Jon Favreau, and Brian Fallon.
Besides their efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and spread social and political discord in America through social media, Russia has also sought to exert influence in Ukraine through similar disinformation tactics, invaded Crimea, engaged in military incursions into Georgia, sought to interfere in NATO’s operations and expansion efforts, among other tactics to increase their political power around the world.
Was all of this predictable in 2012? Not the specifics, but the overall story is far from surprising. Putin is indeed a former KGB foreign intelligence officer, well-versed in the type of tactics in which Russia has been engaging lately. He wasn’t President at the time Romney was making these comments in March of 2012, but his close associate Dmitry Medvedev was.
Remember, Putin and Medvedev played musical chairs with the top Russian government posts during the past two decades. Putin was President from 2000 through 2008, then Medvedev took over, Putin switched to Prime Minister, and then returned to the presidency in May 2012. Putin was never out of the game during this period and has made no secret of his desire for Russia to regain the glory and power of the former Soviet Union, finding the idea of America as the world’s only superpower to be intolerable.
Add in the long list of Russian political dissidents and journalists who have disappeared, “accidentally” fallen out of windows, or found themselves poisoned or shot, and it’s clear Vladimir Putin’s Russia is no friend to America.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.