Why we should welcome Mitt Romney’s Middle East straight talk

Mitt Romney on the Mideast Conflict

US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has made headlines with secretly recorded comments released by Mother Jones in which he argues that there’s little chance of a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, and that given the realities – as he sees them – the best that can be done is to manage the situation:

“There’s just no way.” And so what you do is you say, “You move things along the best way you can.” You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it imminently.

To be sure, the general view that Romney puts forward in his full comments is a faithful rendition of the position of the Israeli government: there is no “peace” because Palestinians don’t want it and are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel” and that an independent Palestinian state would simply be a beachhead for Iran.

To this extent, Romney’s view of the Palestinians – who in his view can all be characterized in terms of generalities – represents the racist and colonial worldview of the Israeli establishment.

Romney also stated, “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world.”

But his comments get at a truth that is widely recognized in the US establishment though rarely spoken in public – and Romney too seems to have thought his comments would remain private among those attending the $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at which he made them.

Although Romney does not use the term, what he lays out is a strategy of “conflict management”: the belief that no political solution is available, at least at any price a US administration is willing to pay, and therefore the best that can be done is to try to keep a lid on things and stop the problem getting worse or flaring up in ways that damage other interests.

It’s a view that has been pushed by the Israeli right, but it is also the de facto policy of the Obama administration, the European Union and Arab states.

The rules of “conflict management”

The first rule of conflict management is that you claim that your actual goal is a just, lasting political solution as soon as possible.

The Obama administration observes that ritual. In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, for example, President Obama asserted, “Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace.”

However, ever since Obama abandoned any effort to make Israel accept even a nominal freeze on settlement construction, and since long before his Middle East envoy Senator George Mitchell departed the scene, Obama’s approach has been conflict management. This involves:

  • Doing everything the US can to appease the Israel lobby at home by providing aid to Israel in ever greater dollops and acting as Israel’s surrogate in every international forum;

  • Appeasing Israel’s war-mongering toward Iran by waging an escalating economic and covert war on Iran while never ruling out a military attack;

  • Maintaining, at Israel’s behest, financial and other support for the Palestinian Authority puppet regime in the West Bank which serves to keep a lid on the Palestinian population on behalf of Israel;

  • Supporting “economic peace” aimed at pacifying the Palestinian population with consumer goods and illusions of prosperity;

  • Supporting the siege of Gaza and maintaining the ostracism of Hamas in order to prevent a challenge to the West Bank puppet regime;

  • Always, always saying that you are fervently working toward peace negotiations and peace.

Romney vs. Obama

So how would a president Romney be different than Obama? He wouldn’t. Like Obama, he would let Israel gallop ahead with its colonization and de facto annexation of the West Bank. Like Obama, he’d support the siege of Gaza. Like Obama he’d block all international efforts to hold Israel accountable. Like Obama, he’d keep US military and economic aid for Israel at record levels. Like Obama, he would maintain funding for the Palestinian Authority, because this is a policy supported by the Israel lobby, AIPAC.

Would Romney attack Iran?

And, like Obama, Romney would keep up pressure on Iran in order to appease Israel’s fanatical lobby. But wouldn’t Romney go to war against Iran for Israel – something Obama seems reluctant to do, to the great annoyance of Israel fanatics at home and abroad? I’m not so sure. Look again at what Romney said:

You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it imminently.

Sure, Romney is talking about “stability” on the Palestinian-Israeli front. But there’s little reason to believe he wouldn’t – like Obama – seek “stability” in the broader region, which means a status quo that favors US imperial interests.

If Romney were elected, on Day One he’d receive the same “advice” from the same military establishment that instructs Obama, and there’s little reason to believe he’d deviate greatly from current US policy (Here I recommend Joseph Massad’s recent article “Arab instability and US strategy”).

The only difference is that Romney has now let the cat out of the bag. When he’d say he’s working for “peace,” we’d really know it’s just a ploy to “kick the ball down the field.”

The protestations of Obama partisans that their man really really cares about peace should not fool anyone. His approach is exactly the same.

The answers are not in Washington

As I wrote days after Obama was elected in 2008, the developments that matter are not those dictated from Washington, but what Palestinians and their allies do on the ground.

Diplomatic stagnation and the bankruptcy of the “peace process” is our opportunity to push forward with BDS and other work that has the potential to shift the balance of power.

Conflict management is an admission of ideological defeat by Israel and its allies – it means it is up to us to articulate a democratic alternative to the racist and colonial status quo which both Romney and Obama fully support.

Comments

I understand that Obama has been a major disappointment on IP issues. While his Cairo speech seemed to signal some movement in US rhetoric, he settled too quickly into Dennis Ross' world view. But to suggest that there is no difference between Romney and Obama feels like too simplistic an analysis. Romney has an almost childlike grasp of the complicated issues and may even believe in the "Rapture" analysis. I fear that Romney would jump quickly into military action or even welcome Netenyahu defacto into his foreign policy team, as he has already bragged. Obama may not pursue the policies that we would like, but there is a difference and I think a significant difference on this and other issues. Romney does not offer "straight talk" because that assumes he understands anything. His careless remarks over the last few months, including his outrageous public comments about the "culture" of Israel over that of the Palestinians scares me. Obama doesn't scare me, I just think he has kowtowed to the perception of AIPAC's political strength to protect his second term. This is a difference and the 50% of disgruntled Democrats during the platform fight means something, if only a very little.

Bush was dumb, Obama is smart. The difference?

They only group of people who feels difference are gays who want openly serve in USA imperialist army. Should we count them as important regarding our opinion of USA prezes?

I don't think lidia's bigotry and beligerance, directed at a well intentioned, intelligent contributor deserves an airing.

I REALLY cannot get it. My bigotry? And against WHOM?

Does JC care to enlighten me?

Of course, if he likes people who are eager to serve in imperialist USA army, he could be offended. But it is not because my bigotry, it is because the truth about gays who are wanting to bomb Iran is not pretty.

And yes, I do not like USA army, but I suppose it is much more "belligerent" while waging colonial wars than me merely pointing at it.

Lydia, the claim that "gays" want to bomb Iran is a gross generalization about a specific group and is therefore predudicial against that group. You may not be a bigot however, just the victim of bigoted propaganda, so I apologize for judging you in haste. I would encourage you though to see people as individuals with free will and consience and not as clones of an archetype.
Do you think it's fair for Americans, of whatever faith, to condemn all Muslims as terrorists because some people who happen to be Muslim want to kill Americans because of political grievances? That kind of thinking is ultimatly wishful because with it Americans will eventually find themselves hated by a billion and a half people simply because they ARE American.
Gay's are just people and they have plenty of intolerant fellow citizens and little need to take it out on Iran.

not all of them. SOME gays DO want to bomb Iran, and thanks to Obama, they could now do it by joining USA imperialist army while being out of closet.

So, the ONLY difference between two candidates is for some gays who want openly serve in USA colonial wars.

And, by the way, both Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world are being murdered daily by USA imperialist army. THIS, and not some tame "political grievances" made a lot of people want to harm Americans. And because Americans themselves do almost nothing to stop their rulers' crimes, JC is being too optimistic by saying "Americans will eventually find themselves hated by a billion and a half people simply because they ARE American". They ARE hated now, and not without reason. For ex, JC has read my comment and his first thought was to call me names for pointing on the role of SOME gays in war crimes by USA army, not paying any attention to the victims of such gays.

Okay Lydia, I see what you were saying now. I wasn't paying enough attention to context. I was more concerned about your irrational obbsession with gays bombing Iran. You're just saying, Obama makes it easier for them. I guess you'd be right about that if you were right in assuming Obama intends to bomb Iran as Romney has all but promised to do. I think if you spent less time imagining gays flying over Iran and more time envisioning the challenges an American president faces dealing with a very effective Israeli lobby, a population historically predisposed to racist demogoguery a Congress that is more to the right, on Israel, than Likud and a political race to keep someone - who is constantly accusing that President of betraying Israel by not threatening to bomb Iran - OUT OF OFFICE. By the way I haven't called you any names. I've merely described your views - acuratly.

that Likud is just ONE of Zionist gangs wanting to bomb Iran, along with Avoda and so on.
And I would give no damn about sexual preferences of somebody doing the bombing. But too many "progressives" in USA and beyond are busy telling me how different Obama is. So I mentioned the ONLY real difference I see between him and Romney politically.

Of course, JC is one of such types that is sure that Obama would NOT bomb Iran. Year, just reelect him, and he'll get another Nobel for Peace and start several wars.

No, JC, there is no Santa Claus and NO "good" prez of USA, NO matter what.

PS And even if Obama would not bomb Iran, not out of goodness of his heart, of course, there are STILL some gays in USA army just now , and they are murdering, torturing and doing other nice things all over the world, while being out - and thanking Obama for it. They are right to thank him for it, by the way.

Sorry to intervene into your discussion. As a definitely "non-gay person" I have to side with your argument that such gross generalizations are very counterproductive and not at all legitimate! But where do such counter productive disputes among progressives stem from? The discussion reveals the highly sophisticated machinations of "power". Imperialism is a "learning system". Long time ago Imperialism counted purely on a somehow homogeneous set of "politico-cultural" beliefs. Open racism, social arrogance, "moral stiffness" (especially anti-gay and so on), actually the set of beliefs the Romney campaign is dwelling on. But Imperialism also penetrated into stratas of the society with generally "progressive" sets of ideas. The agents of Power isolated the various progressive aims and tried to incorporate, to integrate the single ones into imperialist concepts. Thus the concept of the so called "Human Rights Imperialism" was developed. They are trying to exploit isolated (as such very progressive) aims for example they work hard to win anti-racists for their campaign to crush the Arab world on basis of the truly existing elements of anti-black racism also existing in the Arab world. The same way they try to win people who insist on their freedom from religious world interpretations for the "cultural clash". They try to penetrate the scene of people who struggle for their own sexual liberation on basis of a sexually very restrictive renaissance within Islam for their "Clash of Civilizations" (though there was a time when Islam was much more liberal on homosexuality). The same way they also "hire" some feminists for imperialist activities against the Islamic world. This imperial spider web works beneath superficially different looking concepts and "movements". And when they get hold of important circles and personalities in isolated movements they can turn them against each other. They even follow this concept in winning their agents!
Andreas Schlüter
Berlin, Germany

the same who want to serve openly in USA imperialist army (my first post is still here, and even does not mention Iran). They do exist and are promoted, even in popular culture. See here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...(film)
The MC is SO unhappy because he was kicked out of USA occupation army for being gay. And he is a good guy, of course, all "others" murdered by him just do not matter for the viewers.

Otherwise, I agree. Imperialism has 100 faces, some of them even "left". The best (worst) example are "leftist" cheerleaders for NATO "revolutions" in Libya and now Syria.

Thank you Andreas. Most of what I would say in answer to your thesis is in my back and forth with Lydia. But I see what you're saying and basically agree although I would charachterize it as less conspiritorial and more the inevitable and almost unconcious behavior of clans protecting their caves. My main objection is that no form of xenophobia should be accepted as healthy behavior simply because it coincides, conflicts, exacerbates or appears to mitigate another. An illness is an illness and will not be cured by another illness, just made worse.
We can criticize a gay bomber for bombing, that's enough. Critcizing him for bombing while gay only helps those who are laundering one with the other.

Lidia: Your style is a little blunt, but I think what you’re raising here is the issue of homonationalism, which is on the rise in the United States. In Europe, this tendency aligns with right-wing and liberal Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hostility.

However in the United States, I don’t think homonationalism is so entrenched. The efforts in the last decade to include sexual minorities in civil service and now military service probably will encourage it. I’ve covered this lots on my blog especially with respect to Iran. Note that the spectacles created by Iran180 (previous link) were made in the name of LGBT communities in the US by outside and Israel lobby linked groups.

Yes, I AM blunt. But I tell the truth. And "homonationalism" usually works hand in hand with "pinkwashing" of Zionism. Both are seen in USA esp. under Obama.

There's no doubt this goes on BUT in the US at least, it is so marginalized it's more like a threat than a reality. What seems much more real is the fact that a lack of opposition to racism is being scapegoated on gay people. Forty years ago I was involved with a political group that was intolerant of gay people, I left that group for that among other reasons. I don't see "Homonationalism" as a compelling enough social problem to permit "homophobia" to have a free ride on a progressive vehicle.

supporting reaction and blaming Blacks for their own fate, would JC accuse one in racism?

Because it is NOT homophobia to point that Obama is lauded by USA progressives for letting gays who want it to OPENLY serve in USA imperialist army. It is a truth, and a sad one. Being gay does not absolve one from being a willing and proud part of USA colonialist army.

Last time Lydia, I just want you to understand what I saw as wrong with your origional comment.
Your words were intended to minimize the difference between Obama & Romney. In that context, your charge that a few gays being able to bomb Iran was the only difference singled out an already ridiculed segment of society and their quest for equal treatment as paltry reasons to vote for Obama.
Whatever the nature of the case for equal treatment, the quest for it stands alone as a just demand from an oppressed group.
Equating that with racial majority tokenism is misleading, in that it ignores the charchteristics of the two minorities you're equating.
The (anti-Islamic) gay token has fought for equal treatment in (imperialist) society and the black conservative is scorning the black struggle for equal treatment in favor of capitulation, for personal reward, to the oppressive majority status quo.
That may not be an important distinction to you but it is to a potential ally reading these pages. Anger and self-righteousness are not good tactics. PEACE

Ali, I completely agree with your assessment. But the only thing I hear these days is a humungous crashing sound--not just of Romney going south with his campaign, but of a once-rising, hopeful superpower now with termite-eaten wooden legs hobbling from one crisis to another, and most dangerously, sending sparks as far as China and Japan. You have to be pretty desperate to behave as the US and Europe are these days.

Here is how I would phrase a letter to the next American president:

Dear Mr President,
Israel is a mortal danger to your country. My best, most heartfelt advice to you and to America, the Good Ole US of A, is to get out of the Middle East and the Muslim world as quickly as you can, before you lose EVERYTHING. Perhaps then we could all talk like human beings.

Signed,
Average Joe Ninetey Niner Against the Israel Firsters of America

MITT Vs OBAMA is the same as AIPAC Vs J-STREET , the same as LIKUD Vs LABOR two faces to the same coin .

I read and place Mr. Lenow's comment in my "lesser of the two evils" file, which is next to my "who has the more fetching smile" file.

The new developments around the “well shaped” and unfortunately very effective provocation of the Islamic World push me to write this: http://wipokuli.wordpress.com/...
Sincerely
Andreas Schlüter
Sociologist
Berlin, Germany

Why on earth do you say we welcome Romney’s Comments? Yes it exposes the hardly hidden truth about US foreign policy, but what next?
You say the answer s are not in Washington. Well they certainly are not in BDS or the optimistic shopping list of the Democratic Alternative [One State]
With the Zionist power, and that crazy timeline of expectancy, the Israelis will be building hotels in Ar-Ruwayshid, never mind in Amman!

In that case, Mr. Adam Smith, I bid Israel good luck with its tourism projects, settlements, and banana economy. One piece of warning, though, this time from former Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: The future of Israel, stuck as it is on its present course, is "less than certain," especially should it decide to attack Iran in the expectation that the US will come to its military aid yet again.

This tells me, first, that Israel is unemployed, though anxious to show it is still the strong arm of the West in the crowded neighborhood of the Middle East.

Brzezinski's words are a gentle way of saying that the State of Israel will not be able to continue if it does not change course. More than 60 years on, Israel has less than a banana economy to show, as it is; it is more dependent on US largesse than any other country except maybe Afghanistan. Its economy and whole society will collapse when push comes to shove--this much is clear.

So the main thrust of your argument is a statement from the Old Dinosaur Brzezinski? Out of office and now able to cast, at last, an unbiased eye on Israel! But what were his views when he actually had the power to take action on the Palestine/Israel conflict?
January 17th 1977 Sarasota Herald Tribune
Zbigniew Brzezinski -President elect Carter’s national security advisor has privately informed the Israeli Government and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance he no longer agrees with a 1975 report he signed proposing a Palestinian state next to Israel! Brzezinski added that he “had changed his mind” about the Palestinian issue during a 1976 visit to the Middle East and partly because of his new job.

Just saw video taken at UC Irvine, where tactic of being silent, yet wearing signs and walking out of the talk was recorded. I ALSO NOTICED very few people were left in the auditorium and that several of those were standing and recording the walk out.

Makes me think Israel does stuff like this just to try and provoke reaction, which WOULD MAKE THE NEWS.

What is disgusting is that within our civil society context, you get chides for even verbally interrupting such a presentation. Where these very soldiers beat and shoot and itimidate civilians on a regular basis and nothing hits our local news.

BRAVO! to tactics like they used at Irvine, for it cannot be used negatively in the news. What is sad, it probably never made the news because it was peaceful.

Dean Olson

The words of Andreas Schlueter on his blog are in the main good sense. He rightly considers the UK "the 51st state." But he's much too easy on "that complex of continental Europe" that he finds only a reluctant collaborator of the USA. It's NATO that bombed Belgrade, occupies Afghanistan and made a murderous contribution to the mess in Libya. It's France that's most intent just now to interfere in the Syrian civil war. Germans should know where reluctant collaboration leads.

Dear Peter Byrne,
you´re totally right in your statement but misunderstood me a little in my article (http://wipokuli.wordpress.com/...). I know all this but was talking about underneath tendencies. I very much condemn those actions still resulting from a still strong link of Europe to the "Empire" and I´m far from declaring the European politicians to be Saints (or the European capitalists)! I very much appreciate this clarification and am totally with you.
Regards
Andreas Schlüter

Mr. Adam Smith, I don't know what on earth you are trying to say. Attacking the messenger may be a popular debating tactic, but let's stick to the issue.

Brzezinski was offering excellent advice to Israel when he warned about its future. Dinosaur or not, he is far from the only one to do so. The crowd of critics has been swelling recently both in Washinton, DC, and on the streets of America.

Why? Because Israel and America's decline (international, domestic, and economic) is tightly intertwined with its Middle East policy--reducible to total support for a predator state with no borders and no recognizable capital, plus a few parastitica regimes in the Gulf. That's it!

The economic misery of Americans today can no longer be dissociated from the howling hellhounds (both the pro-Israel and Christian fundamentalist loons) surrounding the Congress. This is the Zionist lobby in all its dimensions, not just AIPEC.

And these are the selfsame liars and thieves running both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns, not to mention Wall Street. So, Israel is, unavoidably, in the face of every American.

This won't last much longer--you can take this to the bank!

What Brzezinski said is good advice: "Your future is unclear if you persist on this course." He did not mince words, as so many others do--namely, that America will not follow Israel everywhere. One day Israel will regret biting the hand of its handler and humilating the President, not once but many times.

In short, at present, Israel as a border less state is living on borrowd time. Without recognizing the right of Palestinians to exist, in any form (whether in a single state, a binational state or in one of two states), granting their full rights of citizenship within the present boundaries of "Israel," etc., then Brzezinski is right on the mark.

Adam-First things first! I am on your side! If you think my comments are rude to you personally? Then I apologize!
My point of view, since I have been a supporter of a Palestinian state since 1960' is not to get excited by the odd comment from an ex US politician or diplomat. It is a long way from positive comments to positive action.
I live in the UK. In recent times, I have witnessed the ‘West’ initially using crushing sanctions, followed by engaging all its military might in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria to bring ‘Freedom’ to the people! This at the same time as the West continues to completely ignore the long and continuing brutal occupation of the Palestinians!
The West pays ‘lip service’ to Palestine statehood, but in addition to all the UN vetoes used to exclude Palestine from full membership, I even remember the US threatening to withhold funding to the UN if the Palestine medical group were admitted as members! Also when Palestine managed to obtain membership UNESCO the US Government stated-‘the US announced it would withhold its huge contribution to Unesco's budget as a result of the vote. State department said the US had no choice due to a 21-year-old law prohibiting the payment of funds to any UN body accepting the Palestinians as full members’. [There’s a US Law???]
Remember George W. Bush’s statement-"God told me Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.”! Presumably he is still working on it at his farm in Texas?
In Europe, the External relations department will send out no end of letters stating their support for a Palestinian state. They are fully aware of the appalling conditions under which the Palestinians live! But then bizarrely they grant ‘Special Trading Conditions’ to Israel, making it easier to access European markets!
Impartiality of the UK ?search for ‘Conservative friends of Israel’ to see whose photograph is used up front!

Thank you, but no apology necessary. I am certainly glad that you don't count yourself, Adam, as a British citizen, among the howling lunatics of the Zionist Anglo-American cabal.

The situation in the Middle East is quite dramatic and getting more so by the day. So, we should try to keep the personal out of an exchange among private citizens about the subject-matter of Ali's interesting idea. We don't need more animosity in the world! That's my view, and in fact, this is one reason why I like the general tone of readers' feedback on the Electronic Intifada site. Compare it to that of other sites, including the New York Times, where I am not sure letters are being published online anymore, thanks to all the filth spewed by either side of any given political issue.

I think Ali's judgment is sound. Obama is just the latest US gimmick hoisted on an ill-informed, sleeping international audience. But that has met its limits a good while back. Who really listens to the US anymore?

This should alert us that we face an extremely dangerous period, where the America and Western Europe try desperately to regain momentum in a world they have shattered to bits in the last century or so.

I still think Obama should go. Enough of him argh. Let Romney do his share.

Chris, the fact that this your comment is to be seen here can only be attributed to the publishers generosity but gives at the same time chance to characterize this comment as what it is: the (racist) essence of Romney´s compaign!
This webside (if I understand it well) is dedicated to the better understanding of people, to the just clearing of conflicts; it might sound pathetic but it´s dedicated to the aim of making the world a better and fairer place! That´s why your comment is misplaced here!
Another point is that Obama is far from beeing a true "Man of Change" (for the better). He is exactly what the true power within the (US) Empire needed after Bush: a human face to cover the unchanged greed for unilateral World dominance! And he must have known from the beginning. Neither from the Democrat political engine nor the Republicans can a real social and policy change be expected. In fact this is clear already since Kennedy: http://wipokuli.wordpress.com/... ! In fact the US Power Elite is still counting on Obama. Romney is a "Dummy" ( as how a brilliant "Twitter Comrade" has put it). His task is to gather the more sensible and peace loving people again around Obama, being relieved when crazy Romney wouldn´t make it. And Romney is "structuring" the rightwing scene for the next crisis when brutality will be "needed". This socalled "Democracy" is unfortunately realy a fabrication rather than reality.
Andreas Schlüter
Berlin, Germany