Quotes of the day

posted at 9:31 pm on July 29, 2012 by Allahpundit

A top Mitt Romney foreign policy aide on Sunday said the GOP presidential candidate would back an Israeli military strike on Iran to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” said Romney adviser on Middle East affairs Dan Senor in a briefing with reporters, according to media reports.

***

Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said he would seek to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv as president if the Israeli government ascents.

“A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said in an interview on CNN, conducted in Jerusalem. “I think it’s long been the policy to ultimately have our embassy in the nation’s capital of Jerusalem.”…

“I would follow the same policy we have had in the past, our embassy would be in the capital, and the timing of that is something I would want to work out with the government,” Romney said.

***

While traveling in Israel on a foreign policy “listening tour,” Mitt Romney said he’s not a foreign policy wimp, which is how he’s depicted on the latest cover of Newsweek.

“If I worried about what the media said I wouldn’t get much sleep, and I sleep pretty well,” Romney told CBS News’ Jan Crawford during an interview Sunday in Jerusalem…

Crawford asked Romney about his campaign which has focused on the former Mass. governor and Bain Capital founder’s business experience. “Would you say that foreign policy is the area where you’re weakest?” she asked. Romney invoked another former governor-turned-president, Ronald Reagan, as a model.

“I would say that foreign policy is a place where intelligence, resolve, clarity and confidence in cause is of extraordinary importance,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was one of our great foreign policy presidents. He did not come from the Senate, he did not come from the foreign policy world; he was a governor. But his resolve, his clarity of purpose, his intelligence, his capacity to deal with complex issues and solve tough problems served him extremely well.

***

An Israeli newspaper reported Sunday that the Obama administration’s top security official has briefed Israel on U.S. plans for a possible attack on Iran, seeking to reassure it that Washington is prepared to act militarily should diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential talks, said the article in the Haaretz daily was incorrect.

Haaretz said National Security Adviser Tom Donilon laid out the plans before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a dinner at a visit to Israel earlier this month. It cited an unidentified senior American official as the source of its report, which came out as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was telling Israel he would back an Israeli military strike against Iran.

***

But Romney would face several critical challenges in a conflict with Iran that Obama would not:

– Romney would be a new president in 2013, which could plausibly be the year for a preventive attack. He will be inexperienced, and his national security team will be new and potentially inexperienced as well. The learning curve on Iran is steep, and the Iranian regime knows it. The Obama team is deeply knowledgeable, appropriately cynical about Iranian intentions, and has had the time and confidence to make course corrections.

– Romney, by all accounts, is uninterested in inheriting the mantle of President George W. Bush, who invaded two Muslim countries and lost popularity and credibility as a result. Romney, despite his rhetoric, is more of a pragmatist than Bush, and far more cautious. An attack on Iran is an incautious act, one that even Bush rejected.

– The unilateral use of force in the Middle East for a liberal Democrat like Obama is a credential; for a conservative Republican like Romney, it could be an albatross. I argued in a previous column that Romney is more likely than Obama to oversee a revitalized Middle East peace process. That’s because conservatives are better positioned to make peace; liberals are generally better positioned to launch preventive strikes at the nuclear programs of rogue nations. We know that U.S. voters, and world leaders, allow Obama extraordinary leeway when it comes to deadly drone strikes, precisely because of his politics, character and background. (We are talking about a man, after all, who won the Nobel Peace Prize while ordering the automated killing of suspected Muslim terrorists around the world.) Romney will get no comparative slack.

– Obama has done a superior job of building an international sanctions coalition against Iran. He has even received some cooperation from China and Russia.

***

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.

By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart.

***

[I]f the Republican left little doubt about his ardor for Netanyahu, the prime minister was glad to return the favor.

Despite recently telling Vanity Fair that he didn’t know Romney well, Netanyahu seemed to be auditioning for a future diplomatic buddy pic.

“We’ve known each other for many decades, since you were a young man, but for some reason, you still look young,” he said, prompting a laugh from Romney. “You’ve been a personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the state of Israel, and that’s why it’s a pleasure to welcome you here.”…

The moment was reminscent, if less gushing, of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy all but endorsing Obama four years ago when the then-senator came to Paris during a similar summer foreign tour.


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