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An Un-Obama Middle East Policy

Today Mitt Romney will address AIPAC’s San Diego meeting, speaking about Israel and national security in general. He’s fresh from the Foreign Policy Initiative gathering in Washington, D.C., where he outlined his foreign-policy views. At the AIPAC meeting, he will plainly outline a non-Obama vision. His prepared text, which I was provided, is noteworthy as a comprehensive attack on Obama’s Middle East policy from a potential 2012 contender.

Obama has sought to put daylight between the U.S. and Israel and ingratiate himself with the Muslim World. Romney restated our historic ties to Israel:

America and Israel are bound together by common commitments and shared values. We believe in representative democracy and human rights. We believe in the rule of law–in learning, scholarship, and free inquiry. We believe in the dignity of the human soul and in its God-given right to ascend above government domination … with freedom to speak, worship, associate and think as one desires.

And because we share the same values, we also share many of the same adversaries. We reject oppression, terrorism, authoritarianism. Violent Jihadists have referred to America as the “great Satan” and to Israel as the “little Satan.” Of course, they don’t recognize the irony, committed as they are to the imposition of power over others, to violence, to brutality, to the subjugation of women and girls and to bigotry and racism.

Obama has been exerting enormous pressure on Israel “while putting no pressure on the Palestinians and the Arab world,” Romney argues. He asks: “Why is it that only Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements with Israel? What about Saudi Arabia? The Saudi government will not even sit in the same room as the Israelis, let alone normalize relations or work toward a realistic peace agreement.” He argues, in essence, that Obama’s Middle East policy is not hobbled by bad execution but by a fundamentally flawed view of who the parties are and what will bring about peace:

Inexplicably, the United States now places the burden on Israel to make still more unilateral concessions. At the United Nations, we decried the building of new Israeli settlements but ignored the launching of Palestinian rockets. How is this possible? Have we not yet learned from the concessions in Gaza, as well as from all recorded history, that giving in to the demands of oppressors always and only leads to more demands, not to peace?

We can encourage both parties in the conflict, but we must never forget which one is our ally. Nor must we forget that Hamas, like other violent Jihadists, does not have a two-state solution as its objective—it has the conquest and annihilation of Israel as its objective.

And unlike the Obama administration, his speech delivers nothing less than a full-throated attack on the UN’s propensity to Israel-bash and on the Goldstone report.

The Israel comments are one part of a speech devoted to dissecting Obama’s foreign policy — criticizing our “desultory” treatment of allies and weak-handed approach to Iran, arguing that the military option should remain on the table. (“The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical. Stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not. And agreements, unenforceable and unverifiable, will have no greater impact here than they did in North Korea.”)

This is a serious and comprehensive response to the Obama approach. Those, especially within the Jewish community, who vouched for Obama’s Israel bona fides and who imagined he would be giving a speech like this should take note and engage in some soul-searching. And for others who wish to lead a conservative rebuttal to Obama’s anti-Israel gambit, they would do well to follow Romney’s lead.

The question for any candidate remains what he will do once in office. Obama talked a good game and has proved to be a disaster. There were clues that many of us picked up on — past associations and a worldview at odds with a robust approach on terror. The task for those looking for an alternative to Obama will be to see if beautiful and compelling words are more than words.



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