Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mitt Romney would let Israel control U.S. foreign policy

Republicans love to accuse President Obama of weakening America, of not believing in so-called American exceptionalism, of being too much of an internationalist -- all of which is to say, of not being an imperialist bully pushing its weight around without regard for anyone else.

This is the opposite of the truth, of course. Obama has worked to restore America's standing in the world, as well as its credibility and influence, after his predecessor worked to ruin it with his cowboyish, us-versus-them unilateralism. He is certainly an internationalist in the sense that he respects international institutions such as the UN, and in the sense that he values diplomacy and not just brute force, but there is nothing to suggest that he doesn't believe in, or accept as one of the foundations of his foreign policy, America's supposed exceptionalism, to the point that he often sounds like a Republican, spouting the same old flag-waving nonsense that is de rigeur in U.S. politics regardless of which party you belong to. And then there's his war on al Qaeda and other terrorist threats and his ramping up of the war in Afghanistan, both of which have shown him to be anything but what Republicans say he is.

Anyway, if you're looking for someone who would actually sell out America, you need look no further than Mitt Romney, who may well be the Republican standard-bearer next year. Like many Republicans, he would allow Israel to dictate U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation:

The free daily newspaper Israel Hayom — a media outlet closely associated with right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — asked Romney if, as president, he would ever consider moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his answer, Romney made some astonishing claims. First, that his policy toward Israel will be guided by Israeli leaders; second, on the Jerusalem issue, he'd do whatever Israel tells him to do; and third, he does not think the United States should take a leadership role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

ROMNEY: The actions that I will take will be actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders. I don't seek to take actions independent of what our allies think is best, and if Israel's leaders thought that a move of that nature would be helpful to their efforts, then that’s something I'll be inclined to do. But again, that's a decision which I would look to the Israeli leadership to help guide. I don't think America should play the role of the leader of the peace process, instead we should stand by our ally. Again, my inclination is to follow the guidance of our ally Israel, as to where our facilities and embassies would exist.

He was referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but of course Israel has views on the Middle East generally. Where would Romney stop letting Israel dictate U.S. policy? Where would he draw the line? Or would he always follow Israel wherever Israel determines its interests are at stake?

Once again, we see Romney playing to the Republican base, which is extremist in its support for Israel's right wing, while also trying to score some cheap political points with an important constituency, in this case Jews in swing states like Florida. What he actually believes, if he actually believes anything at all, is irrelevant. This is all about self-promotional politics, as seems always to be the case with Romney.

Now, I get why Romney is taking this position, given what currently plays in the Republican Party, as well as the demands of electoral politics, but of course Republicans are only extremist like this in their support for Israel when Israel is being governed by the right-wing likes of Netanyahu. Would Romney be saying such things if Labor or even Kadima or Yisrael Beiteinu were in power instead of Likud? Well, maybe, given how shameless he is, but certainly Republican support for Israel would be significantly less absolutist.

Romney titled his self-promotional campaign book No Apology: Believe in America. The implication, of course, is that Obama doesn't believe in America and apologizes for it. (Again, this is standard Republican fare.) And yet it's Romney who would put Israel's interests before America's (and, no, they're not the same even they occasionally overlap), and who would allow a foreign country to dicate U.S. policy. Imagine what Republicans would say if, say, Obama were to allow the EU to dictate U.S. monetary policy. Think that would go over well?

Well, it's the man who might very well be the Republican presidential candidate next year, not the president, who would weaken America by taking the exceptional step of selling out the country, and abdicating responsibility over one of the most important areas of foreign policy, for ideological purposes. (Or at least that's what he's saying to try to win votes. Who knows what he'd actually do.) That's just the sort of "leadership" Romney would bring to the Oval Office.

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