Posted by on December 07, 2011 in Blog

By Jamila Benkato

Today at RJC 2012, Mitt Romney received a standing ovation before even speaking – which he obligingly followed by a predictably positive speech about the US and Israel’s special relationship.

In contrast to Huntsman’s stance that the U.S. doesn’t need so many troops in Afghanistan, Romney lambasted President Obama for troop withdrawals in the region, saying that his motivation was “based upon electoral expediency, not military requirement.” In addition, Romney chastised Obama for visiting countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, while never visiting Israel. Romney, on the other hand, repeated his claim that his first foreign trip as President would be to Israel. This proved to be a popular line.

Romney argued that instead of appreciating Israel as “an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization“(a Truman quote), Obama has insulted and chastised Israel while “publicly propos[ing] that Israel adopt indefensible borders.” It is unclear whether or not the great ideals of our civilization include the blatant disregard of international law (although now that I mention it…), but Romney’s critique of Obama goes beyond the “hurt feelings” argument above.

Romney claims that Obama’s policy towards Israel has led to a worsened situation in Palestine, and, he implies, has encouraged the Palestinian bid for statehood. “[Obama’s] actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table,” Romney said. “President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.”

In his strongest statement of support for Israel, he called the bond between the United States and Israel “unshakable” and suggested that any aggression against Israel would “cost dearly.”

The remainder of Romney’s statement focused on domestic issues and his personal story. Only one other foreign policy issue got substantial time – Iran. Romney declared that he would never meet with Ahmadinejad, who “should be excluded from diplomatic society.” Like Santorum and Huntsman before him, Romney found the idea of a nuclear Iran untenable. They are one of “our enemies” and a “threat to the entire world.”

Video from CSPAN here, PDF of prepared remarks available here

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