Following GOP presumed presidential nominee Mitt Romney's disastrous excursion to the United Kingdom last week, a visit described as "worse than Sarah Palin" in the London Daily Mail, he's off to Israel to continue his foreign policy chop-building goodwill tour. If Romney could avoid any local population-infuriating "misunderstandings" on this leg of his trip, it would really be good, because misunderstandings in the Middle East tend to start wars.
Maybe already too late, as the Washington Post reports:
In his speech, Romney declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital, and keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Whether you agree or disagree with Romney, there's no doubt that an declaration like that by a U.S. presidential candidate, in Jerusalem, is going to have significant repercussions. As everyone who has ever read a Time Magazine article on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict knows, the final status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious remaining issues between the parties, and there are very good reasons why the U.S. has not taken a position. Because taking the wrong position at the wrong time means another decade of car bombs.
Thanks for helping out, says the State Department!
Add that to this fresh waffle cooking, reports the Financial Times:
Mitt Romney was forced to clarify his position on Israel's right to conduct a possible military strike on Iran after a senior aide outlined a far more hawkish policy than that of the Obama administration.
Speaking ahead of Mr Romney's keynote speech in Jerusalem, one of his senior advisers backed Israel's right to conduct a unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that [nuclear weapons] capability, the governor would respect that decision," said Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser to Mr Romney...
In an interview on CBS, Mr Romney said: "I respect the right of Israel to defend itself." When asked whether he would support a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, he said: "Because I'm on foreign soil, I don't want to be creating new foreign policy for my country or in any way to distance myself from the foreign policy of our nation." [Pols emphasis]
Yeah, a little late for that, don't you think?
Bottom line: Romney really should get more criticism in the presidential race for this irresponsible behavior than he is likely to. Given that Jewish voters currently favor Barack Obama 68-25 percent in polling, it's tough to understand what he hopes to gain. It's not a new concept for voters that Romney's campaign is all over the map on an issue, but foreign policy is one arena where Romney's trademark unsteadiness could be regarded as the worst possible characteristic.