In contrast to a number of progressives I know, I was generally supportive of and applauded the early stripes of foreign policy realism that former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney displayed during the beginning of his campaign.
Romney had a first rate national security advisor in former State Department Policy Planning Director Mitchell Reiss and had others I respect like Nixon Center President Dimitri Simes on his formal advising team.
And then Romney said that America not only didn’t need to shut down Guantanamo but needed yet another Guantanamo detention facility. He lost me there with that gratuitous flick and other flippancies he uttered that seemed to compete with how much fear he could stir up in the audiences he was speaking to.
Romney, who is a likely candidate for the GOP presidential race in 2012, is again out pumping up fear. I just received this request for funds to the GOP this morning in which he starts out with an empathetic comment towards Israelis living in fear — and then paints the Iran government as completely fanatical. This is not realism — nor even sensible on any level. Iran may have radicals — very true — but the country as a whole is shrewdly run to maximize its interests.
We need to understand that Iran is calculating that the US is weak, disorganized and unserious about our objectives. To counter Iran’s course, we need to respond to the way in which the regime is reading the mixed signals the US and West are sending. That would have been a smarter Mitt Romney comment — something akin to what the pre-candidate Mitt Romney would have said.
I too feel for Israelis that live with some level of fear — but I also have seen first hand what the perversities of Occupation have done to the Palestinians.
Note to Mitt Romney: Watch the tape above of the treatment of a Palestinian by Israeli border police.
Fear-mongering is a crappy way for the GOP to raise money or to animate a new presidential run.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: This is the Mitt Romney note that his folks sent this morning:
I have been to Israel twice — most recently in 2007. I came away encouraged by what I saw. If we lived in a neighborhood like Israel’s, with suicide bombers crossing into our country to kill children in school buses, I’m not sure we could tolerate it. That people actually immigrate to Israel, rather than fleeing from the violence of the Middle East, is a testament to their courage, faith and character. But there is a clear and present danger, above all other threats in the region, and that’s Iran.
Iran represents the biggest threat to Israel and peace. Here’s how I describe Iran in a column I wrote last week for Human Events:
“The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical. We should stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not. And agreements, unenforceable and unverifiable, will have no greater impact here than they did in North Korea. Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence. President Eisenhower said it well: ‘The care of freedom is not long entrusted to the weak and timid.'”
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