• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Romney’s Middle East Policy Op-Ed

This morning Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Middle East policy. After weeding through the persiflage, here’s the meat of the op-ed:

In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

Over the period of the last twenty years we have defeated Iraq’s army twice, removed its government, occupied Iraq from 2003 until 2011, invaded Afghanistan, removed its government, and occupied that country since 2001. Presidents Bush and Obama have both characterized Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons as “unacceptable”. What measures should we take to convince the Iranian leadership that we’re serious? The op-ed is silent on this subject.

There are two several different ways there could be “no daylight” between the United States and Israel. Israel could follow a policy along the lines proposed by the U. S., the U. S. could follow a policy along the lines proposed by Israel, or we could collaborate on a mutually acceptable policy. Which of those is Gov. Romney proposing? The op-ed is silent on this subject.

In the op-ed Gov. Romney emphasizes the importance of U. S. economic strength, military strength, and the strength of our values. I doubt that President Obama wants to weaken any of those things. There is, however, a difference of opinion about what those things mean and how you go about promoting them. Unfortunately, that’s just what’s missing from this op-ed.

Related Posts:

About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Why would WSJ publish such rubbish? He literally says absolutely nothing substantive. Will WSJ let me publish an Op-Ed saying that puppies are cute and snow is cold? Give me a break.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  2. Anderson says:

    Why would WSJ publish such rubbish?

    You are perhaps unfamiliar with the WSJ?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I keep worrying that maybe Romney will come up with the policy equivalent of a ‘killer app.’. But nope. Noting but vapor ware.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    The whole thing is built on an absurd contradiction.

    He says, publicly, that if we are forceful with Iran then they’ll do what we say and we’ll never actually have to go to war.

    I can only assume that Mr. Romney does not believe Iranians can read.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  5. john personna says:

    (The only way the threat actually works is if the Iranians think Romney is lying to the American people, and not to them.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  6. C. Clavin says:

    The WSJ last week published an Op-Ed by Evan Byh, a lobbyist for the medical devices industry, crying about taxes on medical devices.
    The WSJ Editorial page will publish anything. It is, after all, a sister to Fox News.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  7. john personna says:

    What’s wrong with these people?

    That doesn’t mean they won’t talk foreign policy at all. Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan previewed the campaign’s argument on “Fox News Sunday,” telling Chris Wallace: “We’re seeing the ugly fruits of the Obama foreign policy unravel around the world on our TV screens. Syria — you’ve got 20,000 dead people. Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon. The Middle East peace process is in shambles, and we have our flags being burned all around the world. Russia is thwarting us at every stage in the process. This is a weak foreign policy with terrible results, which makes us less safe.”

    Is this just a campaign for imbeciles? That is, people who think greater swagger toward the podium stops civil wars? Or are these guys actually running on Syrian intervention?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  8. stonetools says:

    Israel could follow a policy along the lines proposed by the U. S., the U. S. could follow a policy along the lines proposed by Israel, or we could collaborate on a mutually acceptable policy. Which of those is Gov. Romney proposing? The op-ed is silent on this subject.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Mitt’s view is that we follow Netanyahu’s lead on Iran and Middle East policy. Now why we should do that is something Mitt needs to explain. Maybe the Angel Moroni told him something that he isn’t passing on to us?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @stonetools:

    The problem with that approach is that PM Netanyahu doesn’t even speak for a majority of Israelis. He was elected Likud Party chairmain with about 44% of the vote and Likud represents about a quarter of Israelis.

    IMO delegating our Middle East policy to, what, an eighth of the Israeli electorate isn’t that good an idea.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  10. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    (The only way the threat actually works is if the Iranians think Romney is lying to the American people, and not to them.)

    To be fair to the Iranians, it’s always reasonable to assume that Romney is lying to the American people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  11. gVOR08 says:

    There was an episode of Happy Days in which someone wanted a fist fight with Richie. Fonzie gave Richie a lesson in how to avoid a fight by looking tough and cool to get the other guy to back down. Richie tried it, and got decked. Then Fonzie remembered that to make the bluff work, you have to have, at some point, actually hit someone.

    I’m reminded of this every time Romney talks tough. Has he ever hit anyone? Has he ever done anything tough and risky? Obama has.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Noting but vapor ware.”

    Very apt metaphor.

    Vaporware full of buzzwords and cliches, mathematically put together with no soul or eloquence. This whole paragraph is just prattle and pablum:

    It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    Re Ryan’s complaint that “and we have our flags being burned all around the world”:

    I mean seriously, who cares? Of all the things going wrong in the world, he’s going to throw in the fact that some people are burning strips of cloth for symbolic purposes? It’s always all surface and no substance with today’s Republicans, isn’t it?

    I mean, say what you will about the old-school realpolitik Republicanism of Kissinger, Nixon, etc., at least it was an ethos. This is pure nihilism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    All I heard was “blah blah blah blah Israel! blah blah blah blah Liberty! blah blah blah blah…..”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I mean seriously, who cares? Of all the things going wrong in the world, he’s going to throw in the fact that some people are burning strips of cloth for symbolic purposes? It’s always all surface and no substance with today’s Republicans, isn’t it?

    Maybe all it takes is a little Enzyt* to stop it all.

    * – has to be in the spam filter ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Moosebreath says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Nonetheless, stonetools has the right answer. Romney’s complaint is something of a dog whistle, basically saying to evangelical Christians that Obama is abandoning Israel by refusing to follow the lines set forth by Netanyahu. Note this does not work as well with Jews, who largely know what nonsense this is, and who don’t feel that this policy is in the long-run best interests of Israel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  17. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “All I heard was “blah blah blah blah Israel! blah blah blah blah Liberty! blah blah blah blah…..”

    I’m pretty sure that’s all that Romney supporters heard, too, but then again…..they’re conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to salivate at the buzz words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. john personna says:

    More seriously, the right complains that Obama is given coverage on Middle East issues, including LIbya. What they miss is that the details they want explored don’t help their candidate.

    Most people want disengagement.

    Romney wants a more “forceful” Middle East policy.

    Showing Obama “less forceful” actually illustrates that he has a mainstream position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. stonetools says:

    I wonder if Mitt Romney has green and black underwear and wears a ring powered by a magic lantern? Because he sure believes in the Green Lantern theory of geopolitics.

    I guess he figures that all he needs to is to fix Ahmadinejad with a steely gaze and snarl, ” Do you know how powerful the US military is.” The Iranians will then meekly do what the USA says.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    I don’t see how he and his advisers think this is going to help. It’s not going to impress anyone who wasn’t going to vote for him anyway and may scare off some leaners. This chest thumping is not real popular after 11 years of non stop war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  21. Andy says:

    Disappointing op-ed, but not really surprising. Romney is running a campaign focused on domestic policy. He doesn’t have much experience with foreign policy. But he can’t completely ignore it either, so he gives the typical answer – support for Israel and a populist, if incoherent, message about promoting values. I’d love for him to get specific but it’s not going to happen unless he’s forced into it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. legion says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    IMO delegating our Middle East policy to, what, an eighth of the Israeli electorate isn’t that good an idea.

    Bingo! When Romney (or anyone else, for that matter) says “no daylight” between us & Israel, what they’re actually saying is that ME policy is too difficult for them to think about or articulate, so they just just plan to allow Netanyahu (or whoever happens to be PM this week) to completely determine UN Middle East policy for us. Remember – Mitt’s one consistent talent is _outsourcing_ not actually doing anything himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @legion:

    “Netanyahu (or whoever happens to be PM this week)”

    Not quite. I don’t think they would be saying the same things if someone more realistic (say Tzivi Lipni) were PM.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. jukeboxgrad says:

    dave:

    delegating our Middle East policy to, what, an eighth of the Israeli electorate isn’t that good an idea

    On the other hand, Sheldon Adelson is very rich. If you don’t think our Mideast policy should be for sale, this means you don’t believe in the wisdom of free markets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. jukeboxgrad says:

    john citing ryan:

    The Middle East peace process is in shambles

    This is a good moment to recall what Mitt said when he thought we weren’t listening:

    You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it

    Since Mitt’s plan is to just “kick the ball down the field,” we know he’s the wrong person to address the “shambles.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Rob in CT says:

    I get the impression that Romney thinks of FP in pretty much the same way he thinks of the economy, as he explained to his donors. He thinks he’s the Confidence Fairy. He thinks the economy will pick up if he’s elected because… because… well, because he was elected. “Without us even doing anything” or somesuch. People will be confident! They will invest!

    Move over to foreign policy in the Middle East. Mitt Romney is elected POTUS. The Iranian government will then understand we’re, like, serious and stuff and halt their nuclear program. Because.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    He thinks he’s the Confidence Fairy.

    No, he believes in swagger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. legion says:

    @Moosebreath: I’m not so sure. I think the vast majority of Evangelicals have no idea who the PM of Israel is and don’t really care. All they know is that Jesus is coming, and he’s gonna kick a lot of brown-skinned arse when he gets here, because that’s what they’ve been told.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Moosebreath says:

    @legion:

    I think we are saying different things. A hardliner like Natanyahu will be popular with evangelicals because he takes a hard line on the Palerstinians. A PM who is willing to compromise (like Lipni) will not be, and they will not be willing to outsource Mideast foreign policy to someone like Lipni. They may not know the names, but they know whether they are taking a hard line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Mr. Replica says:

    Where’s the beef?

    I do not know when this started exactly, if it was back before the primaries, during the primaries, or after the primaries, but Romney has always been short on substance. And he is doing it intentionally.
    Mitt sees that there is a larger portion of the electorate that does not care what he thinks or does and will STILL vote for him. And Romney is more than happy to ride that ignorance right to the Oval office.

    To ask “Where’s the beef?” at this point, even after months and months of Romney being intentionally vague…I think is rather redundant. It should be expected. To me, it’s not shocking that Mitt talks a lot and never really says anything other than “Obama BAD, Romney GOOD!”

    Some people think that he needs to be more specific at the debates, but I do not see that happening. The past has dictated that Romney does not want to offer any specifics. At this point Mitt is more concerned with zingers and riding the disinformation train his buddies in the media have built for him.

    The only thing that Romney is serious about is making sure he gets the title of President of the United States, to add to his list of accomplishments. Everything else is just a distraction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. john personna says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    I do not know when this started exactly, if it was back before the primaries, during the primaries, or after the primaries, but Romney has always been short on substance. And he is doing it intentionally.

    Remember, his book is “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness”

    I think this is one of the things that is pure him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Mr. Replica says:

    @john personna:
    Nah, it’s not “pure” him, IMO.
    At least not the part of the title that says “The Case for American Greatness”

    Romney trying to act patriotic to potential voters is nothing but a charade. His real actions speak otherwise. Evading taxes by parking money in foreign countries is not patriotic. Passing off American foreign policy to Israel is not patriotic. Writing-off 47% of Americans is not patriotic. Advocating for the Vietnam draft, then leaving for a vacation in France is not patriotic.

    If that book was pure Romney. It would read: No Apology:The Case for Mitt Romney Greatness.

    People, some people, think that Obama is a narcissistic elitist, and on some levels they are correct. But, for Mitt Romney, it’s how you describe him naturally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. steve says:

    @Dave- If we get to vote, I say Israel follows our lead. I think history shows that Israel is not that good on collaborating or compromising. They are a small client state. With nukes.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. legion says:

    @Moosebreath: I think we’re just coming at it from different directions… I agree that a less confrontational PM would be less in-line with US Evangelicals’ desires – I just don’t think they pay that much attention. They’ve been in the no-nuance, “bring on the War” kick for so long (and their leaders have been feeding them that line for so long), I don’t think “conciliatory Israeli PM” is a concept they can fit in their heads any more. I’d be happy to be wrong, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. sam says:

    @Andy:

    Disappointing op-ed, but not really surprising. Romney is running a campaign focused on domestic policy. He doesn’t have much experience with foreign policy

    For ‘much’ read ‘any, really,’

    Which suggest sto me a zinger for President Obama. When debate turns to foreign policy, O can say something like, “Well, since Governor Romney’s experience with foreign policy is limited to Switzerland and the Caymans –I’m not counting sending jobs to China–…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. C. Clavin says:

    The latest FP attack by Romney surrogates is that Benghazi-gate is worse than Watergate, and Obama should be impeached over it.
    Worst. Campaign. Ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  37. Dazedandconfused says:

    “Do whatever Bibi wants.”

    A lot of beef there. What Bibi wants us to go to war with Iran? I would dismiss it as Mitt just playing games if he had not given a statement praising that great, far-seeing and brilliant statesman Dick Cheney early in his campaign. Considering how careful he has been to distance himself from the Bush administration, seems to me he believes in the narrative of the neocons -for real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    Nah, it’s not “pure” him, IMO. At least not the part of the title that says “The Case for American Greatness”

    That’s not the way I read the smirks. YMMV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Scott O says:

    The phrase “the dignity of work” jumped out at me. WTF? Does he think the Iranian citizens are a bunch of 47 percenters too lazy to overthrow the mullahs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. jukeboxgrad says:

    I’m reminded of this every time Romney talks tough. Has he ever hit anyone? Has he ever done anything tough and risky?

    He assaulted a gay kid with scissors. Shouldn’t that count for something?

    When he was 34 he ignored a cop and got arrested for disorderly conduct. Isn’t that pretty “tough and risky?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Thinking says:

    I have never been of the neo-con/interventionist mindset. I understand the Jewish lobby is powerful, and that a predictable oil supply is important, but I don’t think we should be doing these things for free. In the old days of empires, the conqueror got something out of it. It used to be slaves or wealth. What are we getting for the money and blood that we’ve spent. Certainly no measurable improvement in our status amongst those that we helped “liberate” and democratize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0