After the firestorm started by advisor Dan Senor’s statements about Mitt Romney’s position on bombing Iran, the actual Romney speech was very much a reflection of President Obama’s position that we must exhaust all diplomatic and economic avenues first before backing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to “prevent” Iran’s development of nuclear power with an airstrike.
Though there are aspects of the Obama administration foreign policy that hint at an understanding of the legacy of colonialism, imperialism and client-state status around the world, he has never really articulated that understanding to Americans. President Clinton did a better job of it with his statement that America should strive to be “first among equals.” At it’s core, that legacy is what is behind Iran’s chip-on-the-shoulder attitude.
When he first became president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust didn’t happen in the Middle East, so why did the Middle East pay for it with the displacement of millions of Palestinians? It was twisted into a statement of Holocaust denial, so Ahmadinejad went with that rather than try to explain a statement the West could not accept or understand. He has explained repeatedly why his nation is pursuing nuclear power, but again, no one wants to listen or understand. It’s a matter of equal treatment. Israel has nuclear power. Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel refuses inspections by the IAEA and refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty. As fond as Mitt Romney is of the old saying “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he can’t grasp that is what Iran is saying as well. If Israel can get away with all this without sanctions or condemnation, why can’t Iran? If we spent decades building a nuclear arsenal to match that of the Soviet Union, why is everyone trying to deny Iran a balance of power? As long as we and everyone else treat Iran as less mature and responsible as Israel, they will continue to demand equal treatment. As Iran likes to remind us from time to time, they are as ancient a nation as any in the world, and as a modern nation, centuries older than Israel.
Then there’s the matter of understanding Dictator 101. Romney, like the rest of his party, doesn’t understand that backing Israel’s threats to bomb Iran are empowering Ahmadinejad and repressing the opposition in Iran. Ahmadinejad can hold on to power simply by telling his people that as long as he stands strong, they are safe from Israel and the United States.
And Netanyahu does the same – holds on to power by using fear.
What if we did stand back and let Israel bomb Iran? Does anyone really appreciate what would happen next? We could kiss Egypt’s treaty with Israel good-bye as they launched an attack, along with Syria because an Israeli attack on Iran would re-unite the Syrian people. We, of course, would come to Israel’s aid, and then Russia and the rest of the Muslim Middle East would come in on the Iranian side. Next, NATO comes in behind us. Welcome to World War III, the Christian West against the Muslim East. Iran may be moving toward a nuclear weapon, but Pakistan already has one. So does Israel.
There was one place where Romney’s speech deviated from the Obama administration (and every other administration since Reagan), in spite of his promise not to criticize the present President. He promised to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. Over the objection of most of the world, Israel moved its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1980. With the three major monotheistic religions of the world claiming religious “ownership” of the city, most reasonable nations see a need to establish some kind of special shared or independent status for Jerusalem instead of handing it over to Israel.
People are claiming that Romney is doing this Israel trip to pander to Jewish voters in America. They obviously don’t watch The Daily Show. There is not as much support for Netanyahu’s Revisionist Zionism, or the pattern of repression and oppression the Netahyahu government has demonstrated against the Palestinians among American Jews or even younger Israelis as people seem to believe there is. The idea that a repressed people should in turn repress others is reprehensible to many. This “Israel at all costs” position panders more to the right wing Christian faction of the Republican Party than to Jews. They fear Muslim rule over Christian holy sites and some see any war in the Middle East as fulfillment of Revelations and a necessary precursor to the Second Coming and the Rapture. Romney’s appeal to certain Jewish businessmen is the same as his appeal to any businessman – he will tilt the power to their benefit.
This trip and this speech won’t really change any votes in America. The debates are the best forum for reaching undecided voters, and Romney’s spur-of-the-moment performance is never as good as the President’s. There is only one thing that the Jerusalem speech might provide to the election debate.
In this photograph of Romney, taken to highlight the panorama of the ancient city, Romney’s teleprompter is clearly visible, for all those fools who keep picking on the President’s use of the same teleprompters that every president has used since they replaced cue cards.