I have found Mitt’s recent foreign policy tour a little disconcerting. I’m frankly uncomfortable with foreign policy tours by candidate in general. Perhaps I’m just old fashioned, but there is some value to the notion of a united front in our foreign relations, and I’m not willing to ditch this principle simply because Obama is at the helm. I actually think his mostly modest foreign policy and withdrawal from Iraq have been real highlights of his presidency.
Also isn’t it kind of weird and unseemly to raise money during a foreign tour? Mitt has apparently conducted a number of fundraisers in Israel. Even if this is somehow within the letter of the law, do we want foreign money (or the perception of such) in our elections? Is he being given the right kind of advice here? I remember the big Buddhist Temple fundraising scandal with Gore a few years ago; perception had as much to do with the scandal as the legal prohibition. Why isn’t this also a little scandalous? I guess most of these folks are ex-pats, but shouldn’t it matter many have dual passports and no present connection to the US and that this trip is in a foreign country and much of Romney’s rhetoric involves pledging American fealty to that country?
This bigger problem is that insecure Mitt is apparently going all quasi-Evangelical on Israel, perhaps to shore up his support not so much among Jews as his more fragile support among Baptists and the like. Truthfully, it doesn’t appear he ever gave foreign policy or Israel much thought until recently. And one of my chief concern for him is, like George W, that his empty vessel views on foreign policy will put him in the orbit of the same idiotic neoconservative that got us into the Iraq mess and who now counsel similar interventions in Syria due to their failure to distinguish America’s interests from Israel’s, among other problems with their thinking.
Hawkish views on Israel have disproportionately gotten Republicans screwed up in recent years. Part of my overall beef here has to do with Romney’s rhetoric. It is unseemly to talk so romantically and idealistically in foreign policy matters. Such thinking is a sign of confusion and,in some cases, of disloyalty. The tone must always be hard-headed, one of weighing interests, and the like. Sentimentalism prevents clear thinking and good policy.
Republican foreign policy idealism in general is a significant impediment to good policy, and pro-Israel fanaticism is just one manifestation of it. We’ve gone from George W Bush and his “every Muslim wants freedom” ideas to McCain and “we are all Georgians now” to Romney’s speech in Israel. Reprinted below, it sounds very unlike the tone an American politician should have; it’s fawning and unduly constrictive and shows real confusion about his duties and to whom they’re owed:
I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth: A free and strong America will always (!) stand with a free and strong Israel.
And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone.
We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism (!). Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.