The foreign policy shoe drops…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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80 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Without talking about Shirley Sherrod flashbacks, I’ll just point out that these points of view that Romney is throwing out there are points of view that are shared by many in the base and, get this, in the undecided camp.

    We’re all enlightened enough to know how vile the views here are, of course.

    I get the feeling that the base and many among the undecided would be reassured by these views rather than unsettled by them.Report

    • Shannon's Mouse in reply to Jaybird says:

      The base… yes. The undecideds? Not so sure. If he thought voicing these views publicly could help him, why reserve such red meat for the private $50K/plate base? There was plenty of circumstantial evidence in the past that Mitt held nothing but contempt for the Palestinians, but… jeeze.Report

      • Contempt for the Palestinians has played quite well since the early aughts. The 2nd Intifada being in full swing at the time of 9/11 resulted in a lot of unformed thoughts crystallizing and there haven’t been any major events that have happened since to make folks change their minds. The whole “Apartheid State” argument is a good one but it’s seriously undercut by such things as rockets being fired.

        Now I’m vaguely pro-Israel insofar as I prefer states where you can legally buy pr0n, weed, get gay married, and get a spanking at a dungeon to states where these things will get you arrested and so I should probably put that particular bias out there… that said, the Palestinians spectacularly messed things up from 2000ish through… 2005, 2006 maybe?

        The Palestinian leadership has, apparently, abandoned Arafat’s theories of diplomacy and that’s a good thing. Israel is, understandably, twice shy.

        Maybe we need a front-page post…Report

        • Michelle in reply to Jaybird says:

          I actually think he’s being reasonable in his recognition that a two-state solution is unlikely anytime in the near future.Report

        • KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

          The Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords with the impression that, based on the Accords, they would have their own state by 2000. By 2000, they realized that Israel had no intention whatsoever of permitting a Palestinian state. Israel has spent the “transitional” years of the Accords expanding settlements at an increasing rate and making proposals that involved Israel keeping major parts of the West Bank and leaving disconnected pieces for the Palestinians.

          The Palestinians realized that they’d spent seven years being duped and were understandably upset. There’s not a two-state solution because Israel has never wanted or intended a two-state solution. Even Rabin said outright that he was against one.Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          Oddly enough the thing that sealed it for me Jaybird was wiki leaks. The leaked cables revealed that the Palestinian politicians were perfectly willing to accept the parameters of a two state deal; Israeli withdrawal, removal of settlements; mutual land swaps to integrate the largest settlement blocks into Israel; security cooperation and guarantees etc… they just didn’t want to come out and endorse it and put their asses on the line until everything was full on ready to go. It’s important to note also that the rocket attacks come from Gaza, not the West Bank and Hamas are a bunch of undeniable thugs and theocratic morons to boot.
          Now some shyness from the Israeli’s is one thing but the Israeli right has pretty much done nothing to advance things on their side and demanded from the Palestinian leadership pretty much the one thing they didn’t want to do (publicly put their asses on the line by mouthing a string of unpopular symbolic but in practical terms meaningless Israeli bullet points).

          This is, keep in mind, what the Israeli’s are demanding in exchange for disentangling themselves from a demographic and political time bomb that far and away represents the most likely source of destruction of the Jewish state in its entire history. History has a strange sense of humor, alas. If the pattern holds the right wing clowns will get the boot in Israel just around the time that the Palestinians in the West Bank loose patience and either boot out or kill their moderate leaders and turn to either Hamas or at the very least Arafatism.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            Well, the difference between Gaza and the West Bank is why I support a three-state deal, myself. (Why doesn’t anybody ever talk about a three-state deal?)

            I get into this a bit below but it seems to me that Israel either wrested underdog status from the Palestinians or mooted it and this gives them an upper hand when it comes to the PR war.

            I’d like to see a deal too. If anything, it’ll force the gaze inward rather than outward for a while. But that 2nd Intifada was a bitch… I’m not sure how I’d deal with Fatah if I were the Israeli government. That certainly makes me hesitant to judge them harshly.Report

            • North in reply to Jaybird says:

              Oh likewise. If they were just standing pat I’d be pretty sympathetic. But Bibi and his brigade are not only not advancing the peace process and are not only making useless valueless demands; they’re deepening the existing level of entanglement.

              The three state solution is verboten for a few reasons:
              -Preference to try and pretend Hamas doesn’t exist.
              -Palestinian prickliness when one suggests further dividing their future polity.
              -Israeli prickliness at the idea of having to deal with Hamas.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      Jay it has nothing to do with how “enlightened” we are compared to “those” people. Of course lots of conservitives believe this. Has anybody denied this is what plenty of C’s believe. There are times when some of us say “C’s believe this or that….” and are told that we are just being nasty, or we are blind or we should just take Rush,Hannity, etc as jokers. Some of those things sound nasty or horrible or biased or war mongering. This might be one of those kind of things.

      Why wouldn’t Rom want to publicly say these things on the stump so we know what he wants to do? Why not own up to them? Lets talk about what Rom apparetnly thinks about “those” people over there?Report

  2. Kimmi says:

    Not neocons. theocons want a war, and war they will have, one way or another. If people elect Romney, at any rate.Report

  3. E.C. Gach says:

    On his hypothosizing about the after math of a two state solution, well, I don’t think it’s that ludicrous.

    That is, all of the problems that Israel seems to find intolerable now won’t go away with a two state solution.

    The implicit alternative, though it’s clearly one he wouldn’t propose (Romney that is), is that Israel becomes a non-Jewish state. That is where continuing the status quo, seems to be taking the situation, and so even if he doesn’t propose it outright, that seems to be the end game that Romney’s hypothosizing leads to.

    With that said, his opening and closing rhetoric about the Palestinians is reductive, inaccurate, and probably pandering—-but the middle part seems, if you take it out of the political context—-just to be pessimistic realism.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      It’s not reasonable because Israel’s expectations are unrealistic. Everyone talks about Israel’s security, Israel’s fears that a Palestinian state may pose a danger to them. Well, what about the security of a Palestinian state? It’s got Israel right next to it, with a giant army and a history of having occupied for for nearly 50 years. He talks about Tel Aviv; East Jerusalem is right next to the Israeli border (and the Israelis treat is as being formally annexed). Ramallah’s also right next to the Israeli border. An independent Palestine has no insurance against Israel invading or attacking it. Why should Palestine have any less right to the means of self-defence than Israel does?

      States that are next to each other and are old enemies are going to feel insecure. My recommendation would be a peacekeeping force (not including America) to provide some added security for either side, and to provide the promise of repercussions for either side’s violation of the peace. But there’s zero chance of Israel assenting to that.Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to KatherineMW says:

        No, that’s very true, and so I think the point that Romney makes is accurate in that framing: there are currently no means to make a two state solution occur, or any reason to believe it would be mutually sustainable.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I believe when Tom Clancy Caused World Peace Through Common Sense and Marty Stu Jack Ryan, he used the Swiss Guards to handle all those pesky security problems.

        Obviously the solution to the issue is, of course, Swiss mercenaries who don’t give a crap about your religion. 🙂Report

    • Kimmi in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Romney’s end game is nuclear war.Report

  4. KatherineMW says:

    From the BBC: Mr Romney is shown saying that Palestinians are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel”.

    “The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace,” he says, adding that “the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”.

    I’m so angry I’m hardly coherent. Does he know NOTHING?

    I was in the region this summer. This is completely, blatantly untrue. I don’t actually think it’s ignorance on his part. It’s malice, and a complete lack of interest in hearing or comprehending any other perspective than the lies of the most hard-line factions of Likud. It’s hateful. And half or more of the American media and political spectrum will likely be taking it as an acceptable position.

    The Palestinians want peace. They’ve sacrificed over three-quarters of their land for peace. The Israelis have responded by continuously building settlements on the rest and doing their level best to drive the Palestinians out of it.

    My post on my time in Palestine wasn’t getting written; somehow, the more I care about something, the harder a time I have writing or speaking about it for an audience. But it needs to get written now.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Maybe I ought to write a piece too.
      Entitle it: “Fucking Campers!”
      … oh, no swearing.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

      They’ve sacrificed over three-quarters of their land for peace.

      Why is the land that’s now Jordan excluded from this calculation?Report

    • Kimmi in reply to KatherineMW says:

      do note: they sacrificed a lot of that land because theyw anted all of it, and picked a fight they couldn’t win.

      This does not by any means diminish the “burning of houses” by the Israelis — bu tto say that they lost 3/4 in the pursuit of peace is demonstrably wrong.Report

    • The settlements are the final bargaining chip in trade for the Palestinian claim to “right of return.” Everybody knows that. As long as the Palestinians claim the right of return [to the properties owned by pre-1948 Arabs], there can be no two-state solution.

      [The “one-state” solution is suicide for a Jewish state. Count the Jews in Egypt today*.]

      *1948 Jewish population: 75,000
      2004: Less than 1001

      • b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Does it have to be a “Jewish state” though? Does any state need to be a “(specifically these people) state”?Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

          But where have the Jews ever been truly safe? The pogroms of Russia and Poland. Not just Nazi Germany but Vichy France co-operated in turning their Jews over to the Holocaust, as did Holland and Belgium.

          In what Middle Eastern country are Jews safe now? Where in the world except the US and some of the other Anglosphere countries?

          Google “Where are Jews safe?” As one article put it, a Jew can never have too many passports.Report

          • These days, I’d venture to guess that there is safety in most of Europe as well as non-European nations within the Angloshphere, at minimum.

            But yes, it’s wise to remember that there is no reason to think the brutal repression that Jews have lived through in history has ceased forever, simply because of the existence of Western liberal democracies.Report

          • b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            The history of Jews being murdered is a long one, one I’m familiar with from, well, reading history. It’s a pattern that pretty much everyone has engaged in, declaring an entire people worthless and killing them. The targets and assailants change, the gist is the same. I can understand it that much. But the implication in insisting that Israel must be a “Jewish state” (which I read as meaning it cannot be a pluralist, secular state and survive) strikes me as cynical even to a depth I can’t embrace.

            I’m all for self-defense. There’s a difference between merely warding off threats and assuming anyone other than you is one to the point of their exclusion though. The intentionally ethnic/religious defined state, regardless of which ethnicity or religion, reeks of the latter.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to b-psycho says:

              I’m all for self-defense. There’s a difference between merely warding off threats and assuming anyone other than you is one to the point of their exclusion though. The intentionally ethnic/religious defined state, regardless of which ethnicity or religion, reeks of the latter.

              To me, given the history, the existence of a Fortress of Solidarity makes a lot of sense. The exclusion being a tool of the solidarity. A certain paranoia about it no longer being “their” country, and once again reaching the status of there not being a their country anymore, seems understandable to me.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to b-psycho says:

          To me, the idea of a state possessing a religious or ethnic identity is both silly, and just a bit scary. What does it mean for Israel to be a “Jewish” state? When a former prime minister dies, does the government close down non-essential functions for a week while the state sits Shiva? Does it violate kol isha if a woman sings the national anthem?

          Of course, this is silly, but so is the idea of a non-human entity adhering to a religion.Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Basically every nation-state in the world has an ethnic and a religious identity. The Russian state has the ethnic identity of being Russian along with Orthodox Christianity, France is ethnically French and Catholic etc.

            The main difference between Israel and other states is that the Israeli national identity is tied much more closely to a religious identity for a group traditionally persecuted by religious majorities elsewhere even when they had otherwise assimilated in a nationality. (And thus created a Jewish diaspora identity)

            The problem right now is that Israel is either a multi-national state or a nation-state occupying a separate national entity while its political system is designed to be a single-nation state.Report

      • As long as the Palestinians claim the right of return [to the properties owned by pre-1948 Arabs], there can be no two-state solution.

        I’ve seen this point made repeatedly over the years. I’ve yet to see an explanation of how it can possibly be true. The “right of return” exists only insofar as Israel ever allows it. “We’ll only agree to a two-state solution if you drop your demand for right of return” makes no sense as a bargaining position since in a two-state solution that is roughly along the lines of the 1967 borders, Israel can just continue to block Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from relocating back to Israeli territory. That said, demographic realities make it increasingly likely that it will soon become a good bargaining position for the Palestinians to say “we’ll only agree to a two-state solution if we get a right of return.”

        In other words, it’s Israel’s bargaining chip, not the Palestinians’. The Palestinians can demand it until the cows come home, but the only way they can ever actually get it is if: (1) Israel grants them that right in exchange for some huge, unforeseen concession; or (2) the clock runs out on a two-state solution and demographic realities leave the Palestinians in charge of a single state, in which case “right of return” will be the least of the Jewish population’s problems.

        The settlements accelerate the time frame for (2).

        Someone really needs to explain to me how the right of return is a bargaining chip that the Palestinians hold; in other words, someone needs to explain to me how the Palestinians can enforce the “right of return” in a two state solution without Israel’s consent. As I see it, the Palestinians’ only real bargaining chips are the threat of terrorism, Syrian/Iranian/Hezbollah sabre-rattling, and, most importantly, the threat of demographics.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          I’ve never understood the “right to return” as a bargaining chip for the Palestinians, either. I’ve always understood as it as a rationalization for why Israelis won’t negotiate with the Palestinians. That is, the Isreali argument is that the Palestinians are making unreasonable demands when they demand a right to return, so there’s no reason to even begin negotiations with them!

          But then, from my pov, unfortunately, the Israelis always seem to come up with het another reason to not negotiate with the Palestinians.Report

          • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

            The Israelies also use it as pretext to avoid negoitating and to dupe their overly credulous supporters. They I’s will say the P’s have to drop their right of return before coming to the table. They are asking the P’s to give up something they want just to talk instead of actually, you know, negotiating it.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

              Yup. And the unattainable demands in advance of negotiations. And the Israeli provocations which make sure those demands aren’t met…

              If Israel had any real interest in a negotiated solution, they could surely construct one since they have all the power in the region. The fact that there isn’t a resolution is evidence that the Israelis don’t want one. It has nothing to do with Palestinian intransigence.Report

        • Yes, MarkT, Israel’s bargaining chip is the settlements. The Palestinian claim to “right of return” is no bargaining chip—it’s a non-negotiable demand.

          That’s why there is no peace. Israel already proved it can deal with its own hard liners when they forced them out of Gaza. The Palestinians have no will to deal with theirs.Report

          • greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Wow. You think the Israeli’s have dealt with their hard liners…..just WOW. They are still building settlements.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

              How could you ignore the forcible evacuation of Gaza I just wrote about? Wow, indeed, dude. There’s like no point in this anymore.


              It was the Israeli army’s largest ever non-combat operation, involving 45,000 soldiers and policemen. Most of the world welcomed the unilateral withdrawal. Israelis were evenly divided: on the eve of the pullout a Tel Aviv University poll showed 48 percent of Israelis supported the plan, hoping that it would improve the life of Palestinians and lead to an end, or at least to a sharp drop, in acts of violence and the daily outpouring of genocidal propaganda in Palestinian society directed towards Jews.

              Virtually not a single Jewish resident of Gaza left voluntarily. Many had to be carried out by soldiers and police. In some cases water cannon and batons were used, but there was no serious violence. After the residents had gone, the Israeli army, at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, destroyed the settlements, leaving only the synagogues, which it was hoped the Palestinians would respect. On September 12, 2005, the last Israeli soldier left Gaza, and it took just 15 minutes for the first abandoned synagogue to be set alight.

              Peace, Palestinian-style. You commit suicide then I spit on your grave.Report

              • greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well Tom i’m actually aware of the current settlement movement. They are still building and growing settlements in disputed land. They are still evicting P’s from land they have owned for generations. I’m not ignoring Gaza, i’m saying there is a lot more to it than that.

                What both sides need is a peace agreement. Getting out of Gaza was good, but did not, nor was it intended, to create some sort of actual workable place for P’s to live. In fact the Gaza strip isn’t a workable area without some sort of workable peace.

                The current settlement movement is milatant and aggresive. My F in Law was part of AIPAC but dropped it because of their aggreseiveness and most of my wifes family have spent significant time in Isreal.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Evictions from Gaza isn’t a two state solution. It doesn’t grant (isn’t it interesting to note that Israel is in a position to grant?) Palestinian autonomy. It doesn’t give them the right to self-determination. It doesn’t give them rights of passage.

                It’s a joke, really.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                If I may compare the Palestinian cause to Gay Marriage for a moment, I think that there is much to be gained by just upping and saying “We’re an autonomous government and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

                I mean, it’d have to be followed up by more than mere PDAs, of course… but a firm stance followed by actual governance? That’s a solid body blow to the Israeli position right there.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Certainly, mass nonviolent public disobedience against Israeli controls in the West Bank could yield good results but:
                A- The Israelis are quite good at dealing with mobs.
                B- The Palestinian leadership (most likely correctly) doesn’t think it could keep those kinds of numbers of Palestinians non-violent (especially not with the extremists mixed in) and thus don’t want to risk it.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Tom, the point is that the Israelis don’t even need a peace agreement or negotiation to win on the right of return issue. They can unilaterally withdraw from the settlements along something approaching the 1967 lines, announce that they are recognizing Palestine as an independent country outside of those lines, and then refuse to recognize any right of return while reserving the right to defend itself against attacks. No need for any agreement at all.

            Would this completely end the problems with the Palestinians? No. But it would certainly flip the narrative, and it would go a long way towards creating peace along the lines everyone knows an agreement has to look like anyhow. Besides, it’s a hell of a lot easier to negotiate a peace treaty with an actual state than it is with groups of questionable authority. At that point, the right of return could only be had in exchange for land or other concessions.

            Now there are certainly reasons why Israel might not want to do this, but the point is that the right of return issue is a red herring at best.Report

  5. Chris says:

    Hey Nob, you were jealous about Tod’s Sully bump earlier? Well, ask and ye shall receive.Report

  6. Tom Van Dyke says:

    The Obama admin has screwed up. A few paragraphs from Romney are irrelevant one way or thother.Report

  7. James H. says:

    2. He evidently thinks you need enriched uranium to make a radiological weapon.

    I know it’s not as sexy as the Israel-Palestine issue, but that’s the one that jumped out at me. LMAO. I think that will be a test question in my nuclear weapons and power class next term. “Explain what is wrong with this statement.” Congratulations, you’re better informed on nuclear threats than a major party’s presidential nominee.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    This is one of those conflicts that has been a conflict for as long as I’ve been alive and when I was old enough to notice that it was, in fact, a conflict and I asked about it, I was told stories about the Six-Day War and how it was only six days because of the Holocaust and how fresh the idea of “existential threats” were to the Israeli Army while everybody else was just fighting for grudges… but that storyline was pretty much coming to a close as Israel was pretty much at the tail end of being seen as “The Underdog” in the 80’s and the Palestinians were beginning to be seen as “The Underdog”.

    Now, I don’t have to tell you how important Underdog status is for international relations and PR and whatnot. It was *HUGE* for Israel at the time of the Six Day War and, decades later, became *HUGE* for the Palestinian cause. I don’t know about other continents, but there’s this undercurrent in America that, if you don’t know anything else about any given conflict, you pretty much have a predisposition to root for the underdog. For much of the 90’s and some of the early aughts, you got to see the Palestinians use this underdog status to their benefit and, at the same time, how this status was pushed in PR battles.

    Well, we all remember the debates that happened after the 2nd Intifada started and I’m certain that we remember how the debates shifted after 9/11. The problem with the whole “if you don’t know anything else about any given conflict” is that 9/11 shifted the attitudes of a lot of people to sympathize far more with the people being attacked by “terrorists” than with the underdog and discussions of asymmetrical warfare just kinda fell flat.

    Which, of course, brings me to where we are with Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy: I don’t see this helping him among anyone already inclined to vote against him with the possible exception of Religious Jews who are feeling creeped out about the benefits that come with underdog status being moved from Israel to the Palestinians. I actually see this helping him with the people who are inclined to vote for him because, looking at the demographics, the Republican party mostly appeals to folks who came of age when Israel was still the underdog and that was only reenforced by 9/11.

    Those on the fence? Well… it seems to me that it’s between those who came of age prior to 9/11 and those who came of age after it (and, of course, how many who were in a state of arrested development that were forced to come of age in the proverbial shadow of the twin towers).

    My impression of that last one is that we’re talking about more people who automatically associate themselves for Israel/against Palestine (same thing, really) than who still associate the underdog status with Palestine.

    All that to say: I think that this helps Romney more than it hurts him… to the point where he wants to keep talking about this and make Obama start talking about it too.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

      Well, the thing is Obama’s Israeli policy is the same basic policy that the US has had for 20 years (including divergence between rhetoric and action on things like the status of Jerusalem) and is not what Romney and other right wingers say Obama’s policy is.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kolohe says:

        Nay, K. America has never douchebagged Israel in front of her existential enemies. Until now.Report

        • North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Hogwash Tom. Bush Pere not only “douchebagged Israel” over settlements, he bloody well cut off funding over the issue. Compared to that Obama’s mau mauing has been utterly toothless.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

            Not what I meant, but this is pointless. Obama = GHWB re Israel. Sure.Report

            • Shannon's Mouse in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              You’re right Tom. Obama is nothing like GHWB on Israel. GHWB was MUCH tougher on Israel.Report

            • North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Tom, you might find it useful to include some kind of argument to leaven your sneering because as far as I can see no one outside your particular ideological bent finds these assertions self evidently false.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                I.e., you can’t find anyone inside the Obama bubble who’s not repeating this talking point. Criticizing the settlements has been part of the kabuki for every president regardless of party. that’s not probative.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I sincerely doubt you’ve been inside the Obama bubble.

              • North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Still no argument. No refutation. Did Bush Sr. not cut funding from Israel over the settlements? Is this substantive act not objectively more stringent than anything Obama has done to Israel? Has Obama ~done~ anything to Israel that is objectively comparable to slashing aid over the matter of settlements?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                Mr. N, GHWB threatened to cut it, but it went through anyway. Kabuki.

                Look, your talking point is clearly that Obama’s relationship with Israel is more or less the same as every previous president’s. I disagree. I suppose we could look at polls of American Jews and/or Israelis, because this is clearly a matter of opinion anyway.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                From The Jewish Virtual Library:

                For many in the Jewish community, Bush’s presidency could be encapsulated in his offhand quip to reporters in September 1991 during an AIPAC lobbying effort on Capitol Hill in support of the proposed $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel: “I’m one lonely little guy” up against “some powerful political forces” made up of “a thousand lobbyists on the Hill.” The comment triggered a spate of antisemitic letters and comments for which the president later apologized.

                Bush had opposed the loan guarantees as long as Israel continued settlement in the West Bank and Gaza. The president finally agreed to a loan guarantee package in August 1992, requiring as a set-off any funds Israel spent to build housing or infrastructure in the territories. Despite this action, the political damage was done. The loan guarantee controversy later motivated Jewish opposition to President Bush, who received no more than 12% of the Jewish vote in the 1992 election (down from close to 35% in 1988). While some claimed that Jewish opposition to Bush caused his 1992 defeat, there is little evidence that this was the case. Other actions had caused problems with the Jewish community as well. In March 1990, Bush expressed objection to “new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.” His reference to eastern Jerusalem and his suggestion that it was not a sovereign part of Israel created a furor and added to strained feelings between Israel and the U.S.Report

              • North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Thanks Prof. Got anything else Tom?Report

              • So your talking point is that Obama’s relationship with Israel is as bad GHWB’s. OK, for the sake of argument you can have that one. However in 2012, Israel is facing the existential threat of a nuclear Iran, thus the importance of the relationship is exponentially magnified. Cool relations in 1990 aren’t nearly as important as in 2012.

                And let me know what you find when I look up those polls I suggested. Pulling off a few items from GHWB is not a cohesive picture.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                A nuclear armed Iran isn’t an existential threat to Israel.

                Iran might produce its first workable nuclear warhead in the next decade. It will probably have a yield somewhere in the 20kT range.

                This will allow them to kill about 100,000 people in a single strike on a city in Israel, and the fallout will land on Gaza.

                The Israelis have probably between 20 and 30 nuclear weapons, all likely in the mT range. The Israeli response would destroy the 8 largest cities in Iran, kill about 25 million people (immediately), and completely eliminate all of the industrial capability of the country for about a hundred years. And they’d have likely about two dozen popguns left.

                If anything, Iran having a nuclear capability represents an existential threat to Iran. But I doubt the general Iranian public sees it that way.Report

              • Good counterarg, PatC. If Israel is as chill as you are about a nuclear Iran, hey, it’s their ass, not mine.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                TVD, if you’re referring to me, I don’t have a talking point. I was just providing something closer to actual data than had been presented up to that point. I had no idea who was closer to right–you or North, so I looked it up a bit. It seems you’re right that ultimately HW did continue the aid to Israel, but it also seems that North’s right in that HW was rather a bugger toward Israel.

                Now if you agree that HW’s relationship with Israel was at least as bad as Obama’s, then you’ve agreed that your 3:56 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. comments are inaccurate, right? Because those two comments are inconsistent with your latest statement.

                But you want more, so here’s more.
                –In ’92, HW won 11% of the Jewish vote. (Wiki; Republican Jewish Coalition). Since the average for the Dems is 79%, HW should have–ceteris paribus–received ~21%.
                –In ’08, Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote, right in line with the traditional Democratic performance, despite expectations that he would underperform among Jewish voters. (National Jewish Democratic Council.

                Of course that’s something of a flawed comparison, since in ’92 Bush was running for re-election after he’d conducted actual foreign policy vis a vis Israel, and in ’08 Obama was only a prospective foreign policy maker. Current polls seem very contradictory on the issue, with such huge discrepancies that I suspect one or more has real errors (in a poll of 800-1000 Americans, it’s possible that a discrete subgroup did not get sampled at a high enough rate to provide a reliable subgroup-specific result). We might just have to wait and see how this one turns out.Report

  9. James K says:

    1. Romney thinks the best solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is to “kick the can down the road.” Most observers of the situation emphatically believe this is the worst possible thing to do, given that demographics and political constraints would eventually make a settlement even more difficult. But I suppose apartheid state is fine so long as the problem doesn’t harm Mitt Romney.

    Forgive me my ignorance, but in the absence of a workable solution isn’t doing nothing the right thing to do? And since I can’t imagine what the US government could do to end the conflict in the region short of nuking it into glass (note: I don’t recommend trying this) I’m fairly sympathetic to the “take no action” approach.

    Or am I missing something here?Report

    • James H. in reply to James K says:

      I think the U.S. could recognize Palestinian independence, get Europe to follow, and NATO commits to defending each country’s borders. The borders would still have to be negotiated, but I think international recognition of Pslestine would be the game changer (but the guarantee to protect each country would be the necessary ingredient to make it work).Report

    • greginak in reply to James K says:

      US policy towards Is/Pal is often seen as a proxy for how the US will deal with all the Arab countries. Doing nothing inherently benefits Isreal since they have the power and we provide them with a lot of aid. Doing nothing= supporting what Isreal is doing. Kicking the can down the road is supporting Isreal’s pushing P’s out of contested territories and continued harsh treatment of P’s. We’re in the middle of the mess, doing nothing is just not really doing nothing, its taking a side.Report