Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Romney in Israel gives a strong indication of what a Romney Administration foreign policy would look like

Willard Romney was in Israel as part of his foreign tour meant to give him some foreign policy cred for the election. But the picture he's giving us of what his foreign policy might be as President isn't any cause for encouragement.

Joe Conason in Worse Than London: Romney's Reckless Remarks In Jerusalem National Memo 07/30/2012 and Ali Gharib in Romney Lowers Threshold For Military Involvement In Iran, Says He’d Back Israeli Strike LobeLog Foreign Policy 07/29/2012 describe the implications of the public statements he made in Israel.

Presidential candidate Romney endorsed the notion of the US recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a long-disputed and highly controversial notion. And, through his advisor Dan Senor, neoconservative stalwart and former adviser of the Iraqi Coalition Authority, he encouraged Israel to go to war with Iran. (Dan Senor is married to Campbell Brown, who hosted her own CNN show until 2010, in one of those Washington power marriages.)

Senor's statements on war with Iran included the notion of lowering the official "red line" for war: "If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision." Gharib explains the implications of the wording:

While Obama has said an Iranian nuclear weapon is "unacceptable," declaring a nuclear "capability" an American “red line” that would trigger war sets a lower threshold for U.S. military involvement. The CIA has laid out a specific definition, but the “nuclear capability” language is a complex issue. The word "capability" has a special meaning in the non-proliferation context, but it’s not always clear exactly what. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), one of the Senate’s most vociferous Iran hawks, said this year, “I guess everybody will determine for themselves what that means.” Hawks in Congress pushed a bill this year to shift the official U.S. "red line" to a nuclear "capability."
It's a real sign of how corrupted the American practice of going to war has become that both the Democratic President and the Republican candidate accept the idea that it's perfectly acceptable in theory for the US to go to war or encourage Israel to go to war against Iran without an act of war on Iran's part.

And, as we know from the Iraq experience, we (the US) can just make up some act of war if one doesn't actually occur. And while it's not clearly established in the public record who was behind it, we know that Iran has been attacked by the Stuxnet virus, the kind of cyberattack that US policy considers to be an act of war. And a number of civilian nuclear scientists have been assassinated. It's generally assumed that Israel and/or the US are behind these attacks, but we don't know for sure and, given the Obama Administration's unprecedented obsession with government secrecy, it may be a while before we have more definite information on that.

Willard himself said he wanted to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it, rather than Tel Aviv, as Israel's capital, a sensitive diplomatic issue, to put it mildly. Here's CNN's report, Romney would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. YouTube date 07/29/2012, in which even the increasingly feckless Wolf Blitzer manages to ask some probing questions:

He even sounded like he was saying that a Romney Administration would never even publicly disagree with the Israeli government in public: "Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries."

Conason writes:

Leaving aside the question of whether most Americans want to encourage yet another war in the Mideast – at the behest of the same figures that sank us into the Iraq quicksand – how does it serve American interests, including our interest in a secure Israel and a settlement of the Palestinian conflict, to subordinate US policy regarding Jerusalem or any other policy matter, to a foreign government?

Until now, no serious candidate of either party has adopted such an absurd position – and certainly no American president has ever done so. No president has regarded the traditional commitment to Israel's survival as incompatible with criticism of Israel's conduct toward the Palestinians, encouragement of illegal settlements on the West Bank, or promotion of any other obstacle to a final agreement. Quite the reverse, since American presidents and diplomats of all stripes have often judged that the behavior of Israeli governments discouraged progress toward peace, to put it mildly — including Romney’s fellow Republicans.
Romney also had another foot-in-mouth moment at a big ticket fundraiser he held while in Israel, commenting that "culture" had a lot to do with the disparity of income between Israel and the territory of the Palestinian authority. Laura Rozen reports (Romney comments irk Palestinians Back Channel 07/30/2012): "The remarks 'not only offend Palestinians,' but are reminiscent of the stereotype that Jews are good with money, veteran US Middle East trouble shooter Aaron David Miller told Al Monitor Monday, adding: 'Mitt Romney is no anti-Semite, he’s just not thinking before he talks'."

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