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July 29, 2012 11:45 PM UTC

Romney's Foreign Policy Faceplants Continue

  • by: Colorado Pols

MONDAY UPDATE: Joe Conason writes at The National Memo:

While Mitt Romney’s boorish remarks about the Olympics in London were humiliating enough, the comments emanating from him and his campaign in Israel were still more embarrassing – and potentially more damaging, too.

Seeking to consolidate support on the religious far right, both Christian and Jewish, the Republican candidate and his chief foreign policy surrogate confirmed their ideological obedience in the most abject fashion possible. Without articulating a real policy, their statements reflected such complete submission to neoconservative ideology that even the Bush administration appears moderate by contrast. That they would do so within hours of a high-dollar fundraising event in Jerusalem, attended by major right-wing donors such as Sheldon Adelson, added a jarringly mercenary tone to their reckless words…

Leaving aside the question of whether most Americans want to encourage yet another war in the Mideast – at the behest of the same figures that sank us into the Iraq quicksand – how does it serve American interests, including our interest in a secure Israel and a settlement of the Palestinian conflict, to subordinate US policy regarding Jerusalem or any other policy matter, to a foreign government?


Following GOP presumed presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s disastrous excursion to the United Kingdom last week, a visit described as “worse than Sarah Palin in the London Daily Mail, he’s off to Israel to continue his foreign policy chop-building goodwill tour. If Romney could avoid any local population-infuriating “misunderstandings” on this leg of his trip, it would really be good, because misunderstandings in the Middle East tend to start wars.

Maybe already too late, as the Washington Post reports:

In his speech, Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital, and keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Whether you agree or disagree with Romney, there’s no doubt that an declaration like that by a U.S. presidential candidate, in Jerusalem, is going to have significant repercussions. As everyone who has ever read a Time Magazine article on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict knows, the final status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious remaining issues between the parties, and there are very good reasons why the U.S. has not taken a position. Because taking the wrong position at the wrong time means another decade of car bombs.

Thanks for helping out, says the State Department!

Add that to this fresh waffle cooking, reports the Financial Times:

Mitt Romney was forced to clarify his position on Israel’s right to conduct a possible military strike on Iran after a senior aide outlined a far more hawkish policy than that of the Obama administration.

Speaking ahead of Mr Romney’s keynote speech in Jerusalem, one of his senior advisers backed Israel’s right to conduct a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that [nuclear weapons] capability, the governor would respect that decision,” said Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser to Mr Romney…

In an interview on CBS, Mr Romney said: “I respect the right of Israel to defend itself.” When asked whether he would support a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, he said: “Because I’m on foreign soil, I don’t want to be creating new foreign policy for my country or in any way to distance myself from the foreign policy of our nation.” [Pols emphasis]

Yeah, a little late for that, don’t you think?

Bottom line: Romney really should get more criticism in the presidential race for this irresponsible behavior than he is likely to. Given that Jewish voters currently favor Barack Obama 68-25% in polling, it’s tough to understand what he hopes to gain. It’s not a new concept for voters that Romney’s campaign is all over the map, but foreign policy is one arena where Romney’s trademark unsteadiness could be regarded as the worst possible characteristic.


31 thoughts on “Romney’s Foreign Policy Faceplants Continue

    1. It’s been the law if the land since 1995 that the US acknowledges Jeruselem as the capital and will move the embassy.  Clinton and Bush passed, the Republican House passed, the Republican Senate passed.

      ANd now the Obama admin passes and it’s news?

      I’d have thought it would be better to stick with the liberal media giving team Obama a pass.

  1. I can honestly say I hope he doesn’t meet the same end as the last two presidential candidate morons who said that. Pop quiz time?

    Just for clarity, it’s not true that the US doesn’t have a position. A law that says just this was passed in 1995 with only a series of waivers stopping it being implemented.


    Congratulations, Pols. You really are becoming more and more like CPP all the time.

    1. The question came up Thursday and was addressed then:

      Affirming the U.S. position about the Israeli capital–as recently as Thursday–White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement, “The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

      Inevitably, Romney just has to stay true to character and fall back into Romney non-answer mode:

      Blitzer asked, “If you become president of the United States, would you move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?”

      Romney replied, “I think it’s long been the policy of our country to ultimately have our embassy in the nation’s capital, Jerusalem. The decision to actually make the move is one, if I were president, I would want to take in consultation with the leadership of the government which exists at that time. So I would follow the same policy we have in the past. Our embassy would be in the capital. But that said, the timing of that is something I’d want to work out with the government. …with the government of Israel”

      Blitzer pressed, “But every Israeli government has always asked every U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

      Romney replied, “Well, that would make the decision easy, but I’d still want to have that communication with the government leaders.

      Summing up, Blitzer said, “So just to be precise. If you’re president, you would consult with the Israeli government. And if they said, please move the embassy, you would do that?”

      Romney did not say yes or no.

      1. WTF does that have to do with anything I wrote? Pols’ story is inaccurate at best. I don’t see what your comment has to do with that, or really anything.

        Seems to me that Romney has been boldly waffling the whole time. He’s totally going to do that thing Congress already passed if Israel agrees and diplomacy makes it reasonable at the time. How is your supplemental different than that? More importantly, how is it different than Clinton’s policy?

        Sorry, but if you’re looking for “gotcha” shit, specifically whining about nuance not being appropriate because it’s not nuance-y the right way, you may not have been paying attention. Willard “Mittens” Romney is the one running for President, again. Do you really need the help?

        1. So I think your’s and my comments got crossed.  Sorry about that.

          The reporters in that clip were going for “Gotcha” rather than simply accept that the position of the Obama administration is that the question of Israel’s capital is not off the negotiating table. If Romney wants to pander, fine. But that issue isn’t likely to be settled in the next 4 or even 8 years, so why kick over the hornet’s nest?

          He’s addressing the wrong question (after all, most of the embassies are still in Tel Aviv for the same reason ours is).  And as you say, his answer was the usual waffle.

          But I suspect you already know all that.  And what Pols quoted is accurate, the point being that Mitt is getting into the deep end of the pool without his waterwings.

          If you don’t agree, so be it.

        2. Can you show me what specifically you think is inaccurate in Pols’ blog post? I can’t find it. I think harrydoby’s answer to ellbee also answers you, doesn’t it? Are you saying the Washington Post is wrong and blaming Pols for quoting them?

          It’s weird because every time the conservation turns to Israel, there’s always somebody who freaks out right on cue and then the conservation ends. I don’t mean on this blog, I mean like everywhere. In a flash the “dialogue” becomes “YOU’RE AS BAD AS PEAKPOLS/DAVID DUKE/HITLER.”

          Why does that always happen?

          1. That’s inaccurate.

            Leaving out the rest of the history is just kind of crappy faux reporting. Had Obama said something like that it would have been included. Just because you don’t like somebody doesn’t mean other things don’t exist.

            CPP thinks that’s the case, too. So how is this crappy blog post any different than the average heavily edited, out of context post there? A better question, how far back would I have to go to find Pols complaining about Romney’s team doing pretty much the same thing?

            1. Pols links to a Washington Post story that reads:

              In his speech, Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital, and keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv.

              I’m not stupid, I assume you’ve got a gotcha waiting up your sleeve. Obama probably said something like this at one point (I’m about to search for it). But why are you bad mouthing Colorado Pols when the Washington Post story they linked to doesn’t say that either? (Just read it again, it doesn’t).

              This could be defined as bullying, beating up a local blog for something a bigger publication they linked to reported (or failed to report). Even if Obama did say that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel, Colorado Pols is not a big scuzzy suckface for not reporting what the Washington Post didn’t report either.

              This is obvious, isn’t it?

              1. On no less! droll, it would be nice if you could take it down a notch, because I’m not trying to attack you.


                Sure enough, in a June 2008 speech before AIPAC in Washington, Barack Obama said that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. I have a few thoughts on that:

                1. Obama was in the midst of ugly attacks on his ethnicity and religion. He had to make it clear that he was not Israel’s enemy, and he has not proven to be Israel’s enemy. He may be 1% stricter with Israel than his predecessors, meaning they get away with 99% of what they want in the occupied territories. But that’s it, and it doesn’t match the crazy rhetoric about him on the right. Never has and he’s never gonna change haters’ minds no matter what.

                2. It’s one thing to say that in a speech in Washington, quite another to say it at sunset in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City like JFK in West Berlin. I think that should also be obvious. The rule on these matters is you can say what you want in the U.S., but when you’re on foreign soil you don’t undercut American foreign policy. Romney said that.

                In the interest of fairness though, I guess the WaPo should have supplied that bit of context. Good job setting everybody on Colorado Pols straight!

                Or actually I did, but whatever.

              2. “Just for clarity, it’s not true that the US doesn’t have a position. A law that says just this was passed in 1995 with only a series of waivers stopping it being implemented.”

                That was the first comment I wrote here. Even linked a better article. Bill Clinton said the same thing while he was campaigning. Who was POTUS is ’95 anyhow?

                So first I somehow violate Godwin’s without violating it, you basically tell me so by violating it. Then I get labeled “bully” for being irritated that people can’t do their fucking homework.

                Never mind Pols indirectly blamed Pres. Clinton for ten years of car bombings. But yep, I’m the bully. Romney “faceplants” by saying something ridiculously common that’s ALREADY LAW and I’m the bully.

                So read my first comment and try again. Fuck, read the article.

                For another moment of clarity, US diplomacy (or the wider world’s) does not get to set another country’s capital. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. That doesn’t make it the safest place to put an embassy, or maybe the politically smartest, but it’s fact. Whether you agree with Israel’s policies or not. You can say it shouldn’t be, you can argue it can’t be, but it is. Israel gets to make that call as long as they control the area. We got to create Hawaii’s, didn’t we?

                1. You’re proving my point with it.

                  I didn’t accuse of you violating Godwin’s law. You conveniently skipped the part about saying this stuff on foreign soil. And you know perfectly well it’s a lot of complicated than simply being “already law.” THAT’S WHY THE EMBASSY IS STILL IN TEL AVIV. You’re being at least as disingenuous as you’re accusing Pols of being, so nanny booger Peak Politics on you too.

                  1. I mentioned the waivers in the original comment. For fuck’s sake, once you’re called out on not reading you could, you know, read.

                    Why can’t people just admit that they over-looked something?

                    The policy is waffling. Romney is continuing it. Pols felt it necessary to write a bunch of factually incorrect opinion in their post. Including suggesting that this suggestion leads to car bombs.

                    Stop projecting, please. And showing an example of my rhetoric would be awesome. Or you could actually argue the point. Which, not that I’m saying anything, would actually be very un-Hitler like.

                2. You left this out, it’s in that CNN blog you were bitching I didn’t read. Did you?


                  He later walked back the comment on CNN, telling Fareed Zakaria the remark was a result of “poor phrasing.”

                  “The point we were simply making was, is that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the ’67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent,” Obama said. “I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final status issues.”

                  Now I’ve got an asterisk for your asterisk. Should I climb up your ass with it?

                  (don’t worry, I’m not gonna)

          2. Why does that always happen? And why would you assume I’d immediately go there?

            The more I think about your post the more pissed off I’m getting. I mean, what “conversation”? The one that was only half covered? You know, like how CPP does. Hmm. Wonder why I posted that. Because I’m just like Hitler! They are doing that half crap more and more and it’s offensive. It makes it seem like Mittens is OK and people are desperate to smear him. That can’t be true. Why not just let reality trash Romney?

  2. Does anybody remember that he was Bremer’s “minder” in Baghdad, approving every public statement in advance, consulting with Perle on what tie Jerry could wear, etc ?  

  3. He isn’t trying to get Jewish support. The whole Israel thing just draws more attention to him from your standard evangelical conservative, because for some reason, one of the biggest issues for conservatives in this country is using Israel as a proxy empire, wanting to do everything they can to crush its ‘enemies’ and expand its borders. It could hardly be less about the average Jewish voter (many of whom disagree with Zionist ideals in the first place).

    1. Can’t quote you chapter and verse, but it is based on the belief that Armegeddon (actually a known place, not an event except in popular understanding) will not come until Israel attains its historical borders.

      Hence, support Israel.

      If anyone here can amplify or correct me, have at it.  

      1. and Jewish US citizens vote D

        US will never give up the embassy in Tel Aviv. It has to be a very, very secure building. If they move the embassy to Jerusale it will still be a consulate

    2. Let’s say some significant portion of the Jewish vote was winnable by this position, how would it move the needle?  Not enough in the blue states where most Jews live.  Not enough in the purple states where there aren’t enough Jews.

      This is for the fundies.

    1. The only thing worse than what he said in London is what he said in Jerusalem. Seriously, I say this to The Bunk every single day, but HOW IN THE FUCK CAN ANYONE ACTUALLY JUSTIFY VOTING FOR THIS ASSHOLE? HOW??? Christ on a cracker, it just doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

      I haven’t heard that one…too funny…thanks for the link.  🙂

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