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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Romney's me-too policy of appeasement: Blame Bush

I used to be in touch with someone who was a volunteer every year at the New York City Marathon. As many of you know, I used to run in the Marathon, and was actually a bit better than average at it. My friend told me that after every race, Fred Lebow, the Marathon director and founder of the New York Road Runner's Club, would bring together the most senior volunteers for a meeting in which they were only allowed to criticize the Marathon's running. Nothing positive. They would then take the critiques and use them to make the Marathon better.

If the Republican party wants to get better, they need to look at what went wrong in this campaign and improve it. I saw some of that in a piece last week that expressed hope that Marco Rubio could put together an immigration policy that wouldn't result in the party being eviscerated by the Hispanic vote, while not opening the floodgates to thousands of jihadis. Caroline Glick has put together a critique of the Republicans' foreign policy which is simply a must read. In the process, she does something the Democrats will love: she blames George Bush. But I must say that I did not find a single word here with which I disagree.
For a host of reasons, Republicans have failed to make the case for an alternative to Obama's policy of appeasement. During the election campaign, Mitt Romney embraced Obama's support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. He refused to say that the U.S. must take military action to thwart Iran's nuclear aspirations, despite the clear failure of the current bipartisan policy of sanctions against Tehran. Justifying Obama's abandonment of the United States' longtime ally Hosni Mubarak, Romney said that he would have abandoned Mubarak as well, even though Mubarak was the anchor of the United States' alliance system in the Arab world. Romney failed to criticize Obama's open-door policy for friends of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government.

Romney's "me too" foreign policy was not simply a consequence of his hope to make suburban mothers in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Ohio feel comfortable voting for him. Rather, it was a function of his political camp's greater failure to recognize and contend with the unpleasant and hard realities of the world as it is. The conservative camp in general has been too timid to face the strategic implications of the Islamic world's embrace of the cause of jihad and its goal, Islamic world domination.

During the Bush years, the so-called neoconservative camp believed it had formulated the means of convincing an American electorate dominated by the leftist media to support the projection of American power in the Islamic world. Claiming, and believing, that the purpose of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was to liberate otherwise tolerant and liberal-minded Muslims from the yoke of authoritarian governments, neoconservatives promoted an argument that permitted Republicans to avoid making the hard case for victory.

Even more destructively, the neoconservative campaign to make the Islamic world ripe for democracy necessarily ignored the larger pathologies there that rendered the totalitarian dogma of the Muslim Brotherhood the most salient and popular ideology among Sunni Muslims. The neoconservatives' focus on democratization blinded them to the fact that authoritarian and problematic allies like Mubarak were often the only possible allies available to the United States. Finally, the neoconservatives' insistence that the urge toward democracy and freedom is universal led to their failure in places such as Iraq and Egypt to use U.S. resources wisely. If everyone is just like us, then there is no reason to cultivate the habits of liberty. There is no reason to empower women. There is no reason to financially and politically support nascent and weak democratic forces or to postpone elections until the scales are properly tipped in the direction of moderate forces congruent with U.S. interests. There is no reason to support Christian minorities. There is no reason to insist on the normalization of relations between countries such as post-Saddam Iraq and Israel.

Instead, elections were perceived as a panacea. Give the Arab world the vote and all will be well. In the event, the result was just the opposite. The Palestinians elected Hamas -- their branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians and Tunisians elected the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Bush administration's false claim that the masses of the Islamic world share the values of the American people led to other problems as well. First and foremost, it confused Bush and his advisers about the distinction between Israel and its neighbors and so brought about Bush's full-throated support for Palestinian statehood. His endorsement came even as it was becoming undeniable that the Palestinians, with their addiction to terrorism, their support for jihad, and their anti-Americanism and genocidal anti-Semitism, are the embodiment of all the pathologies of the larger Arab world. If you believe that Israel is no better than the Palestinians, then it is a short step to concluding that weakening Israel on the Palestinians' behalf is only fair.

Losing sight of what makes Israel America's closest strategic ally, the Bush administration relegated it to the uncertain category of "special friend," sending to the Arab world the message that the U.S. was a treacherous ally and fundamentally confused about its interests in the global arena. If the so-called "peace process" was America's chief concern in the region, then it followed that the U.S. should empower its worst enemies at the expense of its closest ally.

And indeed, by supporting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and insisting on an Israeli ceasefire with Hezbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon and northern Israel, the U.S. did in fact help its worst enemies. In Gaza, it supported the establishment of a jihadist state that has since contributed to the transformation of Sinai into a jihadist base of operations, and it emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan. And it facilitated Hezbollah's -- that is, Iran's -- takeover of Lebanon.

The Republican party's failure to reconsider the ill-founded assumptions of Bush's foreign policy toward the Islamic world led inevitably to Romney's adoption of it in the election campaign. And as a consequence, his endorsement of Palestinian statehood and of Obama's abandonment of Mubarak made it impossible for Romney to draw a meaningful distinction between Obama's foreign policy and the foreign policy Romney himself would follow if elected.
Read it all.

There's a lot of food for thought here for Prime Minister Netanyahu too. He too must understand that the 'peace process' and a 'Palestinian state' are not a solution to our ills any more than they are the solution to America's ills. And while 'how I'll resume the peace process' or 'how I trust President Obama to stop Iran' are speeches that will make the Dan Meridor's of the world feel good, they're not much of a policy. Like the US Republicans, Netanyahu too must confront reality. Luckily, he will be doing it sooner than November 2016.

What could go wrong?

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