Mitt Romney’s big speech last night, as AlterNet’s Joshua Holland notes, “lacked focus,” and policy wise, “was pretty thin soup.” But let’s hone in on his extremely short foreign policy section.
It didn’t last very long, but Romney’s foreign policy vision offered nothing new if you’ve been paying attention to his pandering throughout the campaign.
A centerpiece of the Romney campaign’s foreign policy attacks on Obama have focused on Israel and the alleged lack of support the Obama administration has given the Jewish state. Romney’s main line on Israel last night was this: “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”
This line was first used in May 2011, and made headlines. It’s being pushed by the Romney campaign in an effort to appeal to big-time donors like Sheldon Adelson and peel off some of the reliably Democratic Jewish vote, particularly in places like Florida. But it’s a big, fat lie.
Over the past four years, the Obama administration has continued to support Israel with no questions asked. The administration helped bury the UN Goldstone report, which accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the 2008-09 Gaza assault; vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements; shielded Israel from meaningful international action after the Israeli Navy killed 9 people aboard an aid flotilla looking to break the Gaza blockade; boosted military aid; and more. Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, has said that the Obama administration has done “more” for Israel than previous administrations.
The Obama campaign has highlighted these facts in their own bid to raise money and get out the vote. Not that these are good things--the Obama administration’s willingness to protect Israel has let the state continue to build illegal settlements, foreclosing any chance that a viable Palestinian state would come into existence, and continue carrying out military operations with impunity.
Romney’s campaign speech also touched on Iran, and he struck a predictably hawkish tone. “Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden,” said Romney. “But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We're still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.” It appears that Romney is suggesting we don’t talk to Iran--a suggestion that doesn’t jive with efforts to address Iran’s nuclear program.
And there were also the hackneyed phrases on Russia and Cuba. Obama “relaxed sanctions on Castro's Cuba,” Romney said, and “is eager to give Russia's President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election.”