Posted on July 11, 2012 in Countdown


Romney to Host Jerusalem Fundraiser

The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mitt Romney will be hosting a fundraiser in Jerusalem at the end of this month, open to everyone… who can pay $60,000 per plate (which, as we all know, is everyone). The fundraiser will be followed by a major Middle East policy address by the Republican nominee. This comes as a potential solution amid frustration by Romney’s aides who are said to be “at their wits' end attempting to extract from him coherent differences with Obama” on matters of foreign policy. Other reports note that participants in Romney’s foreign policy conference calls described them as a “lame” waste of time for those who want to kill an hour and a half every week. Really? Try being on a Herman Cain foreign policy call! Anyway, so will this trip to Israel give Romney the chance to show more substantive differences with Obama? Will it help him inspire the evangelical right to turn out for him on Election Day?

Israel to Attack Iran If They Think Obama Will Win?

While speaking to Fox News, Charles Krauthammer said that “If [the Israelis] think Obama will win the election, I think it‘s likely they will attack before because afterwards there’s no telling how Obama would punish Israel, and Israel would be vulnerable to any sanctions or other measures from the United States.” Yes, on planet Krauthammer, Israel will be worried about U.S. sanctions against them. By the way, did Krauthammer just encourage hawks in favor of war with Iran to support Obama’s campaign? Meanwhile, we just found out that the host of a major Romney fundraiser has been giving money to the perfectly-reasonable-and-not-silly-at-all “Emergency Committee for Israel,” which is calling for a war with Iran. Now we’re confused about which candidate is more likely to lead the Middle East to yet another war, and we suspect Romney and Obama have no clue either.

State Department Double Standard on Full Display

A July 3rd briefing by the State Department’s chief spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, brought a rare moment of candor about the U.S. government’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After Nuland mentioned that the State Department endorsed a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report detailing Syrian government violations, Matt Lee of the Associated Press asked her about American rejection of past HRW reports on the Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. Matt said “So the next time HRW comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel… I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying… that you think that the report is credible… and you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed?” Nuland is now on the spot. How does she respond? “Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent.” Whoa, wait, no… Ms. Nuland, your job is to claim that we are consistent, and OUR job is to ridicule the claim. When you just come out and admit that we don’t hold Israel to the same standard as other countries, we’re left with nothing to do but sigh and shake our heads. At least the government knows it can’t keep up pretenses any longer. Clearly, it’s time for a new policy.

Who Better to Investigate?

The House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing yesterday on corruption in the Palestinian Authority (PA). The hearings, titled “Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment,” featured testimony from experts from the Foundation for Defense of Democracy and the Congressional Research Service. But here is the cool part: the hearing also included expert testimony from the one and only Elliott Abrams, former Bush and Reagan administrations luminary. Yes, who better to serve as a Congressional witness on corruption than a guy who pleaded guilty to the charge of deceiving Congress about the Iran-Contra affair? Abrams argued that PA corruption was destroying “faith in the entire political system.” True. But for a guy who is concerned about faith in the political system, he sure has little to say about the bigger legitimacy deficit the PA suffers because of its inability to advance Palestinian rights, thanks to Israel’s exacerbating occupation and intransigent political leadership.

Libya's Election

This past weekend, Libyan citizens (including about 500 here in America) voted in their country’s first free election in decades. President Obama offered his “congratulations to the people of Libya for another milestone on their extraordinary transition to democracy” and promised that “the Libyan people can count on the continued friendship and support of the United States.” Aside from a few instances of violence, the election proceeded smoothly, and though the final results may be days away, it’s likely that the liberal coalition led by interim Prime Minster Mahmoud Jibril will be the biggest winner. Though Libya has some deep existential questions it must answer in the coming years about the nature of the Libyan state and its relationship to the Libyan people, we’re impressed that their electoral process seemed a heck of a lot more civil than our own has recently been.

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