Romney: We Should Just Kick the Can Down the Road in the Middle East

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In the latest episode of the Secret Romney Tapes™, our hero decides to tackle the Middle East. Basically, he trashes a two-state solution because he thinks the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.” This is not really surprising. These days, it’s a fairly standard GOP position. But national candidates usually aren’t quite so raw about what that implies. Romney is:

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….and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.

In its way, this is actually sort of refreshing. If, as current Republican orthodoxy holds, the Palestinians just flatly can’t be dealt with, but you aren’t quite willing to go the full monty and agree that Israel should simply annex the West Bank permanently, what’s left? Nothing. You simply ignore the whole thing and let Bibi Netanyahu do whatever he wants.

This doesn’t sound very presidential, though. That’s why Romney’s official position sounds like this:

As president, Mitt will reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He will make clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations by the Oslo Accords is unacceptable. Etc.

Actually, these two statements are exactly the same. “Direct negotiations” means that nothing happens. The Israelis and the Palestinians don’t have the slightest chance of reaching an agreement without outside help. And while the reference to the Oslo Accords sounds nicely multilateral, it’s actually a dead letter. You don’t have to read very far between the lines of the official statement to come up with the blunter version that Romney gave to the millionaire donors in Boca Raton.

The only difference is that until now, you had to argue that doing nothing was the obvious implication of Romney’s position, and the Romney folks could reply with an explosion of word salad suggesting that their guy really did have a plan. Now they can’t do that. In private, he’s now admitted straight up that he just plans to ignore the whole thing. In fact, he’s so completely determined to ignore the whole thing that when a former secretary of state told that there might actually be a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, “I didn’t delve into it.”

Presidential? Not really. Perfectly in sync with the modern Republican Party? You betcha!


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