Romney scores big....
Romney met with longtime pal PM Bibi Netanyahu and with President Shimon Peres. Unlike President Obama, Mitt really does "have Israel's back" in a showdown with Iran. Romney's July 29 Jerusalem Foundation speech was especially noteworthy for naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital:
It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
On Iran, Romney was crystal clear:
Five years ago, at the Herzliya Conference, I stated my view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world.
That threat has only become worse.
Now as then, the regime’s claims that it seeks to enrich nuclear material for peaceful purposes are belied by years of malign deceptions.
Now as then, the conduct of Iran’s leaders gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material.
But today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.
I want to pause on this last point. It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war.
The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world’s most despotic regimes secure the world’s most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.
We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel's right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.
These are some of the principles I first outlined five years ago. What was timely then has become urgent today.
Romney's trip induced President Obama to implment tougher sanctions, though still not full bore.
Romney paid tribute to Israel's emergence as a global economic powerhouse, and to its superior enterprise culture:
We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing.
As someone who has spent most of his life in business, I am particularly impressed with Israel's cutting edge technologies and thriving economy. We recognize yours as the “start-up nation” – and the evidence is all around us.
You have embraced economic liberty. You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. And today, your innovators and entrepreneurs have made the desert bloom and have made for a better world. The citizens of our countries are fortunate to share in the rewards of economic freedom and in the creativity of our entrepreneurs. What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people, and a model for others.
Romney has said that "O" is "undermining" Israel, which indeed The One is, on the diplomatic front--"O" famously said in 2009 that to influence Arab powers he would put "daylight" between the US & Israel. But because "O" supports Israel in most military matters, Mitt will have a very hard time proving his case to undecided voters--especially as they are focusing on economic issues. Mitt said "I love" re Israel, which "O" has never said. Bret Stephens explains the dual views of Israel held in the US:
When detractors think about Israel, they tend to think its successes are largely ill-gotten: Somebody else's land, somebody else's money, somebody else's rights. It's the view that Israel gets an unfair share of foreign aid from the U.S., and that it takes an unfair share of territory from the Palestinians. It's also the view that, as the presumptive stronger party in its dealings with the Palestinians, Israel bears the onus of making concessions and taking the proverbial risks for peace. As the supposed underdogs, Palestinians are not burdened by any reciprocal moral obligations.
By contrast, when admirers of Israel visit the country, they typically marvel at everything it has planted, built, invented, re-imagined, restored, saved. Israel's friends think that the country has earned its success the hard way, and that it deserves to reap the rewards. Hence Mitt Romney on Sunday: "You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. . . . What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people."
Diplomacy matters at least as much as defense, because as the Palestinian nationalist movement is supplanted by revolutionary Islamism, Israel faces an unholy alliance between militant Islamism & the anti-Israel Left in Western countries.
In his July 29 speech, Romney made clear, Barry Rubin notes, that hatred of Jews was a key factor in the Arab-Israeli conflict:
“The reality of hate.” This phrase used by Romney struck me as very significant. It occurred in the context of speaking about how many Arab and Muslim forces feel about Israel. It shows that he is aware that the desire to destroy and injure Israel goes beyond pragmatic considerations and is not something people will be talked out of trying to do. It is enormously important for an American president to understand that there are those in the Middle East who hate the United States and Israel and that it is impossible to appease or befriend them.
This "hate" reference is rare among US politicians, as to Arab attitudes. That such a truth could be buried for so long is a tribute to the power of diplomatic norms to curb leaders. Pushing the limits of what truths can be uttered would, from a President Romney, do American foreign policy a favor.
Romney's reference to the superiority of Israel's culture over that of the Palestinians has been targeted for much criticism. Such is testament to the enduring power of multicultural political correctness: Many regard a culture that instills freedom, enterprise and tolerance no better--indeed, in the eyes of no small number, especially among Western elites--than a culture of resentment, grievance and celebration of terrorism & mass murder. At NRO Rich Lowry notes how culture does influence societal outcomes, some for the better, others for the worse. And Charles Cooke, also at NRO, eviscerates Palestinian "racism" faleshoods aimed at Mitt. At the NY Post, John Podhoretz adds telling detail on Palestinian culture--including how $5B in US aid since 1994 has gone largely down the drain (much of it into Swiss bank accounts for Palestinian kleptocrats). Romney defended his comments upon his return. President Obama has touched on the same vein in presidential comments.
Bottom Line. Romney's Israel visit qualifies as a grand slam--a solid recovery after his ground-out in England. But a Romney presidency may come too late to help Israel versus Iran.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, Conservative Politics