In last night’s debate, AEI’s Katherine Zimmerman asked a perfectly good question:

“The United States adopted a policy of disengagement with Somalia after its retreat following Black Hawk down. Today, an al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, controls significant territory in that country.

“What can the United States do to prevent Al Shabab from posing the same threat that al Qaeda did from Afghanistan 10 years ago?”

After Ron Paul took a crack at it, Wolf Blitzer asked Mitt Romney for his response. Here’s what Romney said:

“President Obama’s foreign policy is one of saying, first of all, America’s just another nation with a flag.

“I believe America is an exceptional and unique nation. President Obama feels that we’re going to be a nation which has multipolar balancing militaries. I believe that American military superiority is the right course. President Obama says that we have people throughout the world with common interests. I just don’t agree with him. I think there are people in the world that want to oppress other people, that are evil.

“President Obama seems to think that we’re going to have a global century, an Asian century. I believe we have to have an American century, where America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

“President Obama apologizes for America. It is time for us to be strong as a nation. And if we are strong, with a military and economy that are so strong, no one in the world will try and attempt to threaten us or to attack our friends.”

Is there any reason to think Romney has any idea what he’s talking about?

The question, which Romney presumably heard, was about Al Shabab in Somalia, and what the U.S. might do to address this potential threat. I realize this is a relatively sophisticated question, but the former governor’s response was to attack President Obama’s patriotism.

Worse, Romney continues to throw around the “apologize for America” garbage that’s plainly untrue.

And in the larger context, it’s the latest in a series of examples that suggest Romney is about as dumb when it comes to foreign policy as Herman Cain and Rick Perry, but he just fakes intelligence slightly more effectively.

Romney’s take on Iran is gibberish. His call for a trade war with China is hopelessly insane. He’s under the false impression that there are “insurgents” in Iran.

Worse, Romney keeps failing these tests. Remember the time Romney told ABC News he would “set a deadline for bringing the troops home” from Iraq — but only if it’s a secret deadline? How about the time Romney, more than four years into the war in Iraq, said it’s “entirely possible” that Saddam Hussein hid weapons of mass destruction in Syria prior to the 2003 invasion? Or the time Romney pretended “Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood” were all the same thing? How about my personal favorite: the time Romney made the bizarre assertion that IAEA weapons inspectors were not allowed entry into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?

More recently, Romney tried to trash the New START nuclear treaty in an op-ed, prompting Fred Kaplan to respond, “In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and — let’s not mince words — thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney’s attack on the New START treaty.”

None of this may matter much to voters, whose attention is focused on the economy, but for voters who take foreign policy seriously, Mitt Romney is a bit of a joke.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.