After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there is not a lot of American appetite for launching new wars in the Middle East
Not so fast. There’s may not be an appetite for another limited war without victory followed by endless nation building. But given sufficient provocation, the pent up desire to settle this thing once and for all may come forth in all its Jacksonian glory to the eternal detriment of the provocateurs. Ice tends to be thin in the Middle East and tempers short in the Backcountry.
“For Governor Romney’s campaign, then, visiting Israel and stressing his support for Israel (and the support of many Israelis for him) is a way of solidifying the governor’s support among Republican evangelicals, but also reaching out to a broader community of voters for whom ‘miraculous’ establishment of Isreal serves as a powerful sign of God’s continuing work in history.”
Adversaries are divided by both the calendars with which they measure history and (in some cases) their reverence for God; Romney gets it – Israel’s contiuing struggle for national survival (the importance of remembrance).
I have said it before and I will say it again, this election is a referendum on Obama’s poor stewardship of America’s domestic and foreign policy. All Romney has to do is look like he wants to mend the relations with allies that Obama has so badly damaged, to highlight how much damage Obama has done. In London Romney brought focus on his own performance managing the Saltlake games with the London games which are flawed as all the empty seats demonstrates, and the insulting removal of Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office. In Israel he has declared Jerusalem to be the capitol and positioned Iran as the enemy and Israel as the ally. In Poland he need only declare his support for an ally repeatedly insulted by Obama. His choice of countries to visit was based on where Obama has done his worst, to highlight Obama’s incompetence not to set his own foreign policy. I think it is being smartly done; he is getting plenty of free publicity and sticking a thumb in Obama’s eye at the same time.
“what the GOP devoutly hopes voters will see as the cosmopolitan, Europe loving, Israel-criticizing, Noam Chomsky-reading, French-thinking socialist now living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”
Emphasis on “devout,” as in faith-based, ie based on myth, unreason, apocrypha.
Romney would do best to turn his jet around and come home, before he makes himself and his campaign even more ludicrous than he’s already made them.
The notion that the president who ramped up targeted assassinations, who nailed Bin Laden by ordering a spectacular long-range assassination that fired the nation’s imagination and occasioned national rejoicing – that this ruthless and successful warrior against AQ is somehow a Chomskyite shows just how desperate the GOP is on this issue.
Give it up, folks. Obama’s right flank is completely covered. Rock-solid, bulletproof.
If the GOP wants to score a few votes on foreign policy against this ruthlessly pragmatic warrior president, the only way to do so is the way the GOP’s right wing did back in Roosevelt’s day: paranoid isolationism.
Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan show Romney the way here.
Go for it, Mitt! More votes for the decent folk! Resist the non-white hordes! Limeys out! End fiat currency!!!
If Romney can’t even win over the punditry’s most strident pro-Israel foreign policy hawk, then his foreign policy gambit’s a lost cause. He’d be better off trying to bribe Bernanke and the Fed officials not to do another QE this week.
Here’s Krauthammer on the most inept foreign-policy candidacy we’ve seen in decades:
“All [Romney] has to do [on his foreign trip] is show up and say wonderful stuff about his hosts and imply we’ll be strong allies…
“… all Romney has to do is say nothing. It’s like a guy in a 100-meter dash. All he has to do is finish. He doesn’t have to win. And instead he tackles the guy in the lane next to him and ends up disqualified. I don’t get it.”
I was amused at the damage control effort by Joanne Yaron, Chairwoman of Democrats Abroad Israel. It consisted of: “Of course Obama hasn’t visited Israel! Presidents should only visit problematic countries to try to influence them, not waste time on friends! And besides, Mormonism! Yuck!” No, that’s not a direct quote, but it’s very close to her words.
“Anti-Israel equals pro-Jeremiah Wright.” This kind of demogogery is beneath you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
@Carol Darr: You seem to think that to describe an idea is to endorse it. Some advice: Read closely before you rebuke!
“Leaving the wreckage of his London visit behind,….”
As a Brit I have to say that I rather agreed with what Mitt Romney said about our preparedness. He said what he had to say in a polite, non-snarky way, and I took no offence.
Romney’s “mistake” was to talk about the facts instead of spouting platitudes. I don’t think that will help him get elected, but if he does win he may make a surprisingly good President.
I’m never sure whether Romney is operating out of some grand, meta-strategy or just bumbling along from day to day. Today he insulted the Palestinians. Was that intentional? Was it wise?
I like Romney but I wish he’d make me less nervous.
also the fact mitt said Jerusalem IS THE CAPITOL of Israel reminds people that Obama lied about that in 2008, and that he says different things to different people on the same subject (remember his hot-mic comment to dmitri!), and that HE CANNOT BE TRUSTED!
Your use of “restorationism” to mean “the belief that God would return the Jews from their exile back to the Promised Land before the end of times ” is problematic.
In American religion (esp. evangelical Protestantism) “restorationism” usually means the attempt to “restore” an allegedly primitive and/or pure Christianity, usually identified with a particular interpretation of the New Testament.
Mormon restorationism is peculiar (not meant in a negative way) because it claims to go “behind” the New Testament, back to the “Old Testament” covenant and people. Thus, the “Latter Day Saints” are contrasted to the presumed “former day” Saints, who, if I remember Mormon mythology/history correctly, are thought to be ancient Israelites who made their way to America, and eventually perished in conflict with the “Lamanites” (identified with part or whole of indigenous Americans).
I don’t know of any single word to describe “the belief that God would return the Jews from their exile back to the Promised Land before the end of times.” It is most often connected to “dispensationalism,” a quasi-literalistic interpretation of the Bible that claims there is a sequence of “dispensations” (eras, covenants) in the Bible. Roughly, it goes from Adam, to Noah, to Moses, to the Israelite nation. When the Israelites failed to fulfill God’s purposes, Jesus Christ came to establish the church. However, dispensationalism views the church as an interim era (=dispensation); God will restore Israel before the millennial age, which itself precedes the new heaven and earth.
All dispensationalists (so far as I know) believe that God will restore Israel, but conservative Protestants who believe that God will restore Israel are not necessarily dispensationalists.
@David Layman: 18th and 19th century Christians often used the term in exactly the sense I do here; the Society for the Restoration of the Jews in London was one example of this use of the term.
James Baker, Reagan’s campaign manager and later Secretary of State, about the Jewish lobby:
“Screw ’em, they don’t vote for us anyway.”
When push comes to shove, that’s going to be the case this November, as well.
The Romney campaign should forget about foreign trips and instead concentrate on voters in Toledo, not Tel Aviv; and voters in Wausau, not Warsaw.
Guess Mittn’s campaig isn’t counting too much on the Fake-istinian vote, Wahhabi campaign donations or the odd trip to Pakistan any more.
The Obama Presidency is bringing governance, economics, culture, society, alliances, etc. into stark contrast with prior experience of which Romney in Israel is another example. The time for choosing is here
While it’s easy to believe that Romney’s London visit was a PR error, there is an alternative perspective. The conventional wisdom was stated well by Charles Krauthammer who said that what Romney should have done in London was make soothing noises and compliment the British on the Olympic Games. Of course the Olympics are turning into a minor fiasco, what with the strikes and the attendance issues that are getting more press than the actual events. So Romney went to London and instead of making soothing noises for which he would now be ridiculed – by the same press that ridiculed him for his prophetic comments – he spoke as an expert on running the Olympics instead of a politician. How refreshing, how unexpected, how (in retrospect) smart. Imagine, a man running for public office who’s not a [readers can supply the missing term] artist!
I saw video of Romney’s comments and like Hugh, I found my admiration of Romney as a knowledgeable leader increasing.
Forget restorationism. Support Israel simply because it doesn’t spit at us and curse, like the rest of the Middle East.
Spoken like a true progressive.
Start with an attack on the GOP as bible toting bumkins. Contrast that belief, with the Green “Gaia” religion and the progressives sad devotion to renewable energy and global warming ie based on myth, unreason, apocrypha.
A ruthlessly pragmatic warrior understands that a mission requires support from his fellows, and would certainly never endanger their lives by bragging on the methods and outcome. As Secretary Gates said, “Shut the … up”.
Krauthammer sometimes falls for that progressive trap of “good is the enemy of perfect”. Besides, I thought all y’all thought Sarah Palin was the most inept foreign-policy candidacy we’ve seen in decades. News Flash: I give that ‘honor’ to Mr. Reset himself. How is that Russian Diplomacy working out for you? Russian naval bases in Cuba? Go ‘Bama!
“By stressing the strength of his emotional and political commitment to Israel, Governor Romney hopes to strengthen his claim to be running as the red-blooded, truly American candidate ….”
emotional and political commitment to a foreign nation is a sign of being a true red-blooded american?
Thibaud makes an excellent point. Unintentionally.
The Left is convinced that Obama’s foreign policy credentials are solid. At least the Administration officials I’ve talked to are eager to have the election be about foreign policy. To the extent that this distracts from a talk about jobs and the economy, they have a point.
But they’re deluding themselves. Obama’s “heroism” stems from approving an operation already under way for several years. For a far-left president, deciding whether or not to kill bin Ladin once the opportunity arose really was a struggle! Biden said he wouldn’t have done it, and the anti-war Left probably wouldn’t have either. His “ruthlessness” really stems from continuing Bush-era policies that he’s campaigned against like rendition, Gitmo, surveillance and targeted killings. Apart from asserting a right to kill American citizens on or off the battlefield, all of these were policies that would be unthinkable for a Republican to oppose. Obama’s courage, such as it is, is that he embraced a mainstream position in opposition to the anti-war movement he rode into the White House.
Obama’s foreign policy has been riddled with gaffes. Treaties with Russia have been disasters. He intended to give the Russians substantive concessions for temporary political gains at home, but in each case the Russians denied him even the good optics. Iran played him like a sucker over the student protests. Relations with Britain have been a comedy of juvenile slights and amateurish stumbles.
Where Obama’s innovated actual foreign policy, as opposed to embracing Bush or running damage control, it’s been a flop. Europe likes but largely ignores him, except for Eastern Europe, where they’ve been sold out to Russia. The major international organizations appreciate his deference, but again largely ignore him. Bungling the Arab Spring… well, what else need be said? In East Asia, with China exploiting the vacuum we’re leaving, they’re screaming for America to re-engage.
Even Canada and Mexico– traditionally no-brainers for American policy thinkers– are suddenly question marks. Canada is befuddled about why we’d refuse to buy oil from them, but has responded by shrugging and selling it to China instead. Even if we change our minds now, for the first time they feel like they need a Plan B. And we’re still trying to figure out what Obama was thinking trafficking arms and money to the drug cartels in Mexico to fund a civil insurrection there. What exactly was the plan there?
Obama clearly doesn’t buy into the human rights rhetoric he pushed in 2008 and before– it was just a convenient pose to take to oppose President Bush. He’s embraced leftie international organizations over US national interest. He embraces our enemies and betrays our allies.
So this is a conversation the US really should be having about him, one I think he really isn’t eager to have. What is his over-arching foreign policy vision? And how does he square it with the vision he articulated in all the years up until the moment he was elected? Oh, and how does all this square with the actual policies he’s enacted.
As far as I can see, his foreign policy is episodic, dilettantish, and driven largely by domestic political calculations. His main bragging point is that he defied his base to embrace a policy that virtually everyone outside the extreme left thought was a no-brainer.
We didn’t get the competent, centrist, unifying president who ran in 2008, we got a petulant, amateurish ideologue instead. This is as true for jobs and the economy as it is for foreign policy. Thibault is blind to this point and, frankly, I hope Obama’s campaign operatives stay blind to it as well.
“Guess Mittn’s campaig isn’t counting too much on the Fake-istinian vote…”
The Pallys are hopelessly divided between the Hamasistan open prison in Gaza and the much more prosperous PA areas in Judea and Samaria. The latter owe much of their current success to the presence of the IDF in the vicinity, helping to assure that PA police stay focused on law enforcement (a-hem!) and that Hamas insurgents stay away. And their cousins in Dearborn and Jersey City know this!
Pelosi tipped the Democrats’ hand on this one. It is not the Jewish vote, it is the Jewish financial support to the US political parties that matters to her. For the career politician, it is about marinating in a high level of money donated to the political party. To add a different dimension to Mr. Romney’s Israel visit, it is about potentially diverting Jewish money going from the Democratic party coffers to the Republican party coffers. In that context, Pelosi’s strange comments to Al Hunt make perfect sense. Not to sound too cynical about the real motivations of career politicians, no?
I seem to remember another recent president who was bitterly reviled for saying what he meant and meaning what he said. “The Narrative” is today’s Holy Writ.
[email protected]: “Today he insulted the Palestinians.”
By pointing out that Jewish culture has enabled them to be more successful than the Palestinian Arabs?
Can you imagine the outrage if he had pointed out that Palestinian Arab Christians are more successful than their Muslim counterparts? Or that one of the only Palestinian Arab leaders seeking to develop a viable economy, Salam Fayyad, is constantly undermined and accused of being a sell-out (shades of “acting white”)? Or that the territories under control of the Palestinian Authority improved economically when under Israeli control?
Perhaps the Palestinian Arab leadership (again, with very few exceptions such as Fayyad) could use a bit more insulting. Coddling them has obviously not worked out very well. For them.
[email protected]: Isn’t that what our host himself was saying? (Also, if it’s a close election, a 10% change in the Jewish vote could make a difference.)
“ruthlessly pragmatic warrior president”
yeah President Obama is such a ruthlessly pragmatic warrior that he first needs Valerie Jarrett’s approval!
By the way; though President Obama campaigned on an anti-war, peace-around-the-world, close Gitmo platform his supporters are pleased with this go-it-alone assassinator-in-chief who failed to close Gitmo.
Funny is how-with one Obama and a few well chosen words- eight years of hating warmonger GWBush is instantly turned into “ruthlessly pragmatic warrior president”
Thibauld, you are funny. Clown funny! I am thoroughly amused. Thank you for the entertainment.
Bla-Bla-Bla…..and, in the meantime, there arrive another day’s quota of two or three whining and insulting fund raising e-mails from Obama’s people trying to save their phoney-baloney jobs
and get three dollars from my wallet.
Every time I read one of their letters inviting me to a raffle for a dinner with the great one or a chance to see some entertainment celebrity – like that one in New York with her apartment’s “dirty doorknobs” – I wish Monty Python were still around to make fun of their laughable transparency. But, then, they DO parody themselves quite regularly.
““Leaving the wreckage of his London visit behind,….”
Wreckage? Based on what? Krauthammer’s expert analysis? I expected more from Krauthammer than that kind of cringing performance. I usually think he’s spot on but he missed the mark entirely. The Brits need to be realistic. Mitt could [relieve himself] on the Queen and it would still be less insulting than Obama has been to them for the past 3 1/2 years.
Poor Republicans. I feel your pain.
Dr Krauthammer, Karl Rove and the rest of the GOP establishment are pulling their hair out now as they watch the worst candidate since Bob Dole step in it again and again.
But even Romney, America’s version of what those mean and nasty Brits call an “upper-class twit,” admits the obvious and is following Obama’s lead and call for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Perhaps Romney can call for an alliance of the avoiders: Caymans + Bahamas + Switzerland + Liechtenstein + Cyprus!
Maybe also include that oil rig in the Atlantic that the libertarian nuts want to withdraw to. The wackos could funnel campaign cash to the Romney campaign through Kim Dotcom’s PayPal account – a libertarian trifecta!
Romney (and conservatives) need to downplay the goofy theological underpinnings, and focus on how Israel is a stable democracy that supports the rights of gays, women, artists and others that are pariahs of the surrounding Middle Eastern regimes.
Campaign rhetoric and considerations aside, the bottom line is this – any intelligent foreign policy recognizes that Israel is our best friend in that part of the world, and the only truly free democracy.
The Palistinian cause has always been a straw man with little in history to argue for it.
The idea that “anti-Israel = pro-Jeremiah Wright” is accurate and perfectly defensible. Obama spent 20 years listeing to and presumably agreeing with Wright’s anti-Jewish bigotry. Just because he threw Wright under the bus to get elected doesn’t mean he was appalled by Wright’s racism, or he would have got up, stomped out, and never given another dollar to Wright’s church a long time before 2008.
Oh, and just in time, new reports suggest that Obama actually called off attempts to kill bin Ladin. Three times. On the mission he finally did permit, he prevaricated until the last possible minute; blaming the delay later on weather rather than squeamishness. Of course, we don’t know for sure if he’d delayed or not, but it brings to mind a point that matters whether the account is true or not.
Liberals continually point out how difficult the decision was to eliminate bin Ladin. But any moderate or conservative politician would have approved the mission as a matter of course. What made this a tough decision for Obama was that he is an anti-war liberal. Calling the decision “courageous” implies that the anti-war left is inclined to political cowardice.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that finally at long last Obama overcame his radical ideology and did the right thing in that case. But why have a president that would be conflicted about it in the first place? Bush, Romney, McCain… even Clinton wouldn’t have hesitated.
Mitt was right to tweak the Palestinians. It was an oblique reference (in my mind) to the argument the left uses to define the the Middle East. To them, the conflict is defined by the Marxist dialectic in which Israel is the bourgeoisie and the Arabs the proletariat.
Identifying the M.E. this way changes the very definition of the conflict. It undercuts the left’s mindless support for a people whose children aspire to be suicide bombers, murder their daughters if a man looks at them and do even worse. A jab at the Palestinians could be the push that begins a domino effect which will end in Israel living in peace the the American left with nothing but insults and obfuscation.
Survey shows Jews prefer Muslims over Christians by 2 to 1.
Might not Mitt help his standing among Jewish voters by selecting a Muslim Veep, not a Christian Veep?
[email protected]: “they DO parody themselves quite regularly”
This campaign video is the “best” self-parody I’ve seen in a while. But what else would you expect from whiners?
[email protected]: Heck, maybe starting to hold the Palestinian Arabs to some standards will actually help them out. Lord knows the alternative hasn’t been working out particularly well.
[email protected]: “Survey shows Jews prefer Muslims over Christians by 2 to 1.”
This is indeed a surprising result, mitigated by the fact that this survey was among American Jews and specifically asked about the “Christian Right”. I’m not sure what the point of this was.
Re. #30 and the pathetic attempt to deny the facts, here’s a view and a summary of what happened, from the nation’s top counterterrorism official from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Richard Clarke:
“President George W. Bush certainly touted his counterterrorism record, however faulty it may have been. Yet by criticizing this administration for what his predecessor and every other President has done (taking credit for his accomplishments), some are politicizing the issue of terrorism again.
… What would be best for the country on the issue of counterterrorism is if we could somehow manage to return it to a nonpartisan matter. Unfortunately, this early in the election year, that seems unlikely.
Therefore, voters should be advised to look carefully at claims that are made by both sides, and stick to the facts.
TEN FACTS THAT TELL THE TRUE STORY:
First, the Bush administration moved assets to Iraq away from the search for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Second, in 2006, the Bush administration closed the Bin Laden unit at the CIA in a reorganization.
Third, Bush changed his rhetoric from wanting Bin Laden “dead or alive” to publicly minimizing his importance. (Mitt Romney followed this pattern, saying in 2007, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”)
Fourth, in 2007, candidate Obama said he would send troops into Pakistan to get Bin Laden, unilaterally if necessary, and was criticized by leading Republicans (Romney included) for saying so.
Fifth, after he took office, Obama directed an increased priority be given to getting Bin Laden.
Sixth, the President personally participated in repeated high-level meetings on his aggressive new strategy for getting Al Qaeda and its leaders in Pakistan.
Seventh, Obama ordered a dramatic increase in drone attacks in Pakistan, wiping out Al Qaeda leaders and making it almost impossible for Bin Laden’s senior commanders to operate there.
Eighth, the President rejected cabinet members’ advice and ordered the raid that killed Bin Laden to go ahead.
Ninth, it was the commander-in-chief who ordered that additional helicopters be made part of the operation, a decision that turned out to be crucial.
Tenth, Bin Laden is dead.
Finally! Romney’s comments about Israel give us something to get excited about. It’s the first time in his whole campaign that I’ve felt that passion. The passion to donate money. The passion to volunteer for the campaign. The passion to argue for the candidate.
I work on Wall Street, but if I hear another thousand comments on lowering taxes and cutting red tape, I’m going to fall out of my chair (Yes, of course we need to lower taxes and cut red tape, but am I going to wake up early and lick envelopes to lower my tax rate? No.)
Mr. Mead – this column was spot on. America is exceptional. Israel is exceptional. And it is of course the hand of G-d and our shared values based on the Bible!! If we move away from a belief in the Bible – well, just look at the atheistic, morally relativistic hellhole that the country formerly known as Great Britain…
“what the GOP devoutly hopes voters will see”
What we most “devoutly hope to see” are the man’s stripes, in other words? Not really. We’ve seen them in every one of his cuts by a thousand gaffes.
(You didn’t help to build this blog, Mr. Mead. 14,000 paper-shredding, pencil-pushing bureaucrats did. Somehow…ask the NYT, they’ll explain it.)
What we devoutly want to see is a competent president whose primary mission isn’t gonzo, wholesale divisiveness and whose concept of a market economy didn’t faze out with the fall of the Hittites.
What bugs me about Romney is that he’s such a boy scout. A duddly do-right. A stiff. A choir boy. (Better a choir boy than a closet sensationalist.) And the left is trying to paint him as a sort of errant Peck’s Bad Boy?
Boy does that reek of desperation.
What reeks of desperation is your disengenuous depiction of Romney. Romney was a highly successful corporate player. The corporate world is a world of sharks, barracudas, & piranha. Not boy scouts, duddley do rights, or choir boys. He had no compunction about shipping the jobs of thousands of Americans overseas. He has no problem throwing thousands out of work to swell his own portfolio & justify his 7 digit annual bonuses. He may be a stiff, but he ain’t no choir boy. He’d slit your throat for another percentage point of market share.
At the end of the day, Israel will do what it needs to do with or without U.S. support. All other comments here and elsewhere are irrelevant
“Romney was a highly successful corporate player”
Emphasis on “player.”
Again, Romney was not a businessman the way Steve Jobs was, or Henry Ford was, or his dad was. His skill was in using other people’s money and gaming the tax code’s favorable treatment of corporate debt (to juice up his returns) and the payout structure (to keep the upside from his tiny handful of wins and to stick his investors with the downside from the 96% of deals that didn’t work out.
Henry Ford, and George Romney had no need for the “carried interest” scam – or for a dizzying welter of offshore “blocker” accounts. (Bad on Steve Jobs’ company for its many offshore ruses that shield billions in profits from the public trust every year.)
Romney is a poster child for everything that’s wrong with our tax code.
Barack C. E. L. I. C. N. C. R. F. T. S. Obama . . . has a nice ring to it. Thank you Mr. Mead.
Poor Republicans. Poor Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics.
Now “Mitt the Twit”, as our conservative Anglo-Saxon friends call him, is walking back his idiotic comments about the “culture” of the occupied West Bank.
The Twit puts out an opinion piece in National Review titled “Culture Does Matter.”
At the same time, the Twit goes on FOX News and says, “I’m not speaking about it, did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy that’s an interesting topic that deserves scholarly analysis, but I actually didn’t address that.
“Certainly don’t intend to address that in my campaign.”
And now poor Tom Bevan has yanked his RealClearPolitics link to Romney’s National Review op-ed!
If only the Republicans had nominated a heavyweight like Rick Perry. Or Michele Bachmann. OK, Herman Cain. I mean, Santorum.
“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.” — George Washington