The Most Extraordinary Moment Of the Foreign Policy Debate Was Missed By Most People

There was a moment in the last debate that really stood out because both candidates embraced a rather significant shift in American foreign policy and that shift was driven not by what’s in the best interests of the United States, but by raw politics.

Here it is…

MR. SCHIEFFER: A lot to cover. I’d like to move to the next segment: red lines, Israel and Iran. Would either of you — and you’ll have two minutes, and President Obama, you have the first go at this one. Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan? And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long time when we made that — when we made that promise to our allies.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency. And —

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying we’ve already made that declaration?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week….

MR. SCHIEFFER: Two minutes.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily….

When George W. Bush was in office, he rather famously said, “One thing that the world can count on is that we will not allow Israel to be crushed.” While that’s a strong statement of support for Israel, it falls short of a promise to go to war on Israel’s behalf.

It’s worth noting that the United States HAS NOT previously gotten militarily involved in Israel’s wars. Why is that something we should want to change?

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am a STRONG supporter of Israel. I know people who live there; I carry sand from the Sea of Galilee on my keychain. I consider Israel to be one of America’s best allies. I’ve publicly supported Pamela Geller’s Pro-Israel Ad Campaign; I think Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. I have written articles like Seven Reasons Why Israel Will Never Get a Fair Shake and If The Palestinians Are Angry, That Means Mitt Is Doing Something Right. If Israel were attacked, there’s no question that I would want to see our government doing everything possible to support Israel short of sending in the troops.

All that being said, I have qualms about essentially saying that “An attack on Israel is an attack on the United States.”

For one thing, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Fatah launch attacks at Israel pretty regularly. If a Fatah fighter fires a rocket at Israel, that’s an Act of War by the government of the Palestinian territories against Israel. Israel generally ignores that sort of provocation, but what if Israel doesn’t? What if Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites and a war starts in the region? Are we going to put American troops in the middle of that? According to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the answer to that question is “yes.”

Not only would that be dumb on our part, the very fact that we’re giving Israel that impression may lead Israel to be more belligerent with its neighbors. Despite the incessant complaints about “Israel’s aggression,” Israel actually shows remarkable restraint — far more than we would show under similar circumstances. Do we want to encourage a change in that policy when both of our political parties are now essentially pledged to shed American blood on Israel’s behalf if necessary?

Politically, both Romney and Obama may have been smart to say what they said. But, geopolitically it wasn’t smart; nor is it in America’s best interests.

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8 Responses to The Most Extraordinary Moment Of the Foreign Policy Debate Was Missed By Most People

  1. Sean says:

    Either you support Israel or you don’t. So, looking at your nervous position, you don’t. You just SAY you support Israel, and then if things look dicey, well, we didn’t mean THAT. If we do not support Israel, militarily, and we have every time they’ve been attacked, short of sending lots of troops( we sent them, just not many), then we go backwards from over fifty years of supporting our most important ally. It may come down to boots on the ground, but hey, that’s life. Life that is, lived,when you’re not gutless. Yeah, I know, we’ve been involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all these other places for years, we don’t belong there now, yadda, yadda, yadda. The one place on this planet, other than our home we should be ready, willing, and able to hit it hard, is Israel. G*ds people. You know, that whole Jewish/Christian thing, in the Bible. Either we are a TRUE ally, or we are not. Just because things look terrible doesn’t mean we shouldn’t commit. Do you think they’ll always be able to fight off the Moslem hordes without resorting to the nuke trigger? Will we? Shimmy, quake, and quail all you want, but try not to hide under the covers when your friends need you. After a while, all your friends will leave you, knowing you didn’t have what it takes when the chips were down. And then when you need help, even G*d knows better than to lend a hand.

  2. robert108 says:

    The difference between them is that obama was lying, and Romney was telling the truth.

    • Jill says:

      Yeah. People of power who are honest and are striving for the american way, understand the squirmishes the land of Israel puts up with day after day. this article is ridiculous stating that Israel would purposely antagonize it’s bordering enemies with the knowledge that the U.S. would step in. The cabinet of the White house office would employ middle east experts who would be able to dicipher what was a full scale war and a one an hour scud launching.
      In my humble opinion I believe pushing Israel into the sea and off the map would make Obama most happy. He has displayed time and time again his disdain for Israel. He has lied every single day about something.
      Obama cannot be trusted.

  3. Art says:

    Why would we not want to apply the same standards we apply in other parts of the world. Is Israel any less important?

    Seems to me that most of our allies could be put in the same position as Israel with border skirmishes are we to then say that we are withdrawing the same degree of resolve in their protection?

    Treating Israel as a friendly pariah will only show more weakness, which IMHO, we (the USA) have shown too much of already.

  4. Antone says:

    While you make a good point about Israel being bombed regularly (thousands of times each year, I believe) and any one of those is a declaration of war… However, we are already (presumably) at war with terrorism. Despite Obama’s obvious reluctance to admit that such a thing exists (can you say man made disasters) I don’t recall anyone saying that the war on terrorism is over. Certainly, no victory has been seen. So I’m not sure these bombings change our position significantly.
    In addition, conservatives generally recognize (and both Carter and Obama have deomonstrated) that appeasement never works. So I do not agree that it’s a good thing for Israel to continue being so “understanding”… In my view, they are currently far too understanding. And, because they are, that invites further agression. Buy saying that we will back Israel (even militarily) we give them the courage to take less crap. Which will–in the long run–reduce the amount of crap they have to take.
    A wise Israel, however, will remember that we elect a new president every four years… and so any actions they take should be based on the idea that in four years they could be totally abandoned again…
    That is the legacy Obama has given us.

  5. Bernadette says:

    I agree with Sean. Thousands of years fighting Isreal and no one has annilated her yet. The lands of the Middle East know of God’s promise to slaughter all those who DO. Why do you think Isreal still exists? Sure, Isreal has had a LOT of land taken, but they STILL exist! Those folks KNOW God meant what He said. All those countries could have over taken Isreal easily. They know what the Bible says & they grew up learning about the things God fulfilled. God is not a practical joker. If Isreal is threatened or attacked, we had BETTER be fighting FOR her…No excuses!!!

  6. C. Fred Weeks Jr. says:

    We must not leave any doubt in any Nation’s mind relative to our, the USA’s, unconditional support of Israel. To allow there to be any doubt is to invite meaningful aggression against Israel.

    Please remember the State Department’s and Ms.(then Ambassador) April Glaspie’s comments to include cables to Saddam Hussein prior to his invasion of Kuwait.

    I am sicken by “Sunny Day” Israel supporters.

  7. Joelas says:

    A firm commitment to support israel in case of significant aggression is a deterrent, However I believe that not even the protection of USA and Europe to some extent will be adecuate to dissaude the Muslims from following their faith and radical leaders to annialate Israel. Atomic bombs won’t stop them since they see it a glory to die for their cause, however wrong it is. 6 M Irraelis can’t resist 200 M enemies close by on all sides. Israel is indefensible eventually. Neglecting emotional and religious fervor, The physical property of Israel is not worth the cost of defending it eventually. I suggest that the willing Jews and Christians of Israel be offered citizenship in America, Bringing with them their culture, technology and portable tools and the physical property sold off to the highest bidder, to pay for the move. Send home the illegal immigrants to make it population neutral. The move would upgrade our country. And win us many points in the Middle east. we could then pull out of there and save a lot of lives and money.

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