September 25, 2012 by Nash Riggins
In a particularly difficult interview aired Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney struggled to extract a firm understanding of foreign policy by dodging one question in particular: how would a prospective President Romney ease anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East?
In what was either a lack of understanding towards foreign policy in the Arab world – or merely a fundamental confusion between the words ‘ease’ and ‘intensify’ – Mr Romney’s response was that America needed to start flexing some muscle in nations such as Egypt.
“Egypt needs to understand what the rules are,” Romney answered. “That to remain an ally of the United States, to receive foreign aid from the United States, to receive foreign investment from ourselves and from our friends, I believe, around the world, that they must honour their peace agreement with Israel.”
CBS presenter Scott Pelley appeared slightly confused as to whether Mr Romney understood the question, but let him continue.
“I think we also have to communicate that Israel is our ally – our close ally. The President’s decision not to meet with BiBi Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, when the Prime Minister is here for the United Nations session, I think is a mistake and it sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends. And I think the exact opposite approach is what’s necessary.”
So there you have it: in order to ease anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, Mitt Romney would publicly dote on Israel, full stop. No positive PR campaigns, no attempts to reeducate his own people against the bigotry they harbor towards Islam, no nothing – just a threat to the Arab world that any provocation against the Israeli state will merit full retribution from American military drones. Is this really the message that Mitt Romney believes Americans should be sending the people of the Middle East in order to soothe their frustration?
It’s hard to say, as Mitt Romney isn’t particularly well-versed on foreign policy. In fact, it appears as if Romney’s current campaign has attempted to do little by way of understanding said issues, and is more than happy to simply regurgitate the Middle East rhetoric of his Bush-era advisors – including, amongst others, warhawk John Bolton. Bolton has long advocated for the bombing of Iran, and since his appointment to the Romney campaign has helped to push the former governor towards voicing his overwhelming support for military action against Iran – which the Romney Campaign itself hardly falls short of labeling as ‘evil’.
If Iran is not stopped from gaining nuclear technology, the campaign asserts, “it will provoke an arms race in which the Arab nations themselves forge ahead with nuclear programs of their own. The result will be a nightmarish cascade of nuclear tensions in the world’s most volatile region. Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism would take on a new and terrifying dimension.”
Bolton’s presence has clearly driven this sentiment, which is eerily reminiscent of the statements made by the George W. Bush administration whilst attempting to gather public support for its ill-fated military invasion in Iraq; however, Mitt Romney’s unnaturally raving support for the security of Israel does not only stem from his belligerent foreign advisory team.
There are 750,000 Jewish Americans that currently reside in the swing-state of Florida – which has carved a particularly notorious niche for itself as the state that has the ability to make or break a presidential campaign. In fact, today’s latest polls indicate a relative dead-lock between the two candidates; therefore, by catering to what he believes matters most to Jewish Americans – the protection of Israel – Mitt Romney hopes to unify Florida’s Jewish population into an impenetrable Republican voting bloc so as to secure the state’s electoral votes.
Will he succeed? It’s still far too early to tell; however, one thing is certain: Mitt Romney does not understand the Middle East – only Jewish Americans’ perception of one conflict within the Middle East. What about America’s inability to act in the Syrian civil war? What about increasingly tense relations in Pakistan? What about an ever-growing ignorant take on Islam throughout middle America? All of these issues – and dozens upon dozens of others – factor into the equation of ways in which the United States could ease an arguably justifiable anti-American sentiment abroad. Yet Mitt Romney apparently has no clue as to what may solve this dangerous issue – and so long as he is able to secure the votes of America’s Jewish population, indicators suggest that he doesn’t really care.