Romney on the Mideast
I’ve been saying for months, and I said again last night just before the debate, that Romney cannot effectively criticize Obama’s Mideast and Arab Spring positions, because he essentially shares them. Well, Romney did me one better: not only did he not effectively criticize Obama’s Mideast policies, he barely criticized them at all—even, amazingly, avoiding any mention of the burning issue of the moment, Benghazi. No, he did me two better: not only did he barely criticize Obama’s Mideast policies, he spent much of the evening agreeing with them. He even expressed his support for Obama’s ouster of the Mubarak regime, a step which, as all Islam realists understand (and no neocons or establishment Republicans understand), guaranteed the Muslim Brotherhood ascendancy.
However, it’s not just that Romney shares the neoconservative policy of promoting the fatal chimera of Muslim democracy, which he does; it’s that he goes beyond the neocons in not drawing any connection between Muslim democracy and the spreading “tumult” in the Mideast of which he repeatedly complained. The neocons draw some connection between the democracy and the tumult, in that they say we should have pushed Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya toward democracy, but that we also needed to “manage” these democracies so that they would not democratically elect “Islamist” (i.e. Islam-compliant) governments, and they fault Obama for not engaging in such management, a failure which, they say, allowed Islam-compliant governments to take over. Romney does not (at least explicitly) make that neocon argument. He just says that the “tumult” is due to a generic lack of American “strength,” which was the one point on which he criticized Obama’s Mideast policy. But, like Obama, he does not trace the tumult at all to Muslim democracy.
The upshot is that, like Obama, Romney is even more uncritical of Muslim democracy than the neocons are. The neocons promote American-managed Muslim democracy, a position which implies that Muslim democracy without American management will lead to bad things. Romney supports Muslim democracy, period. He draws no connection between Muslim democracy and Muslim jihad. He simply blames the jihad, the spreading “tumult,” on a lack of American strength in the region.
The neocons will consider Romney’s position (“America must be stronger in the Mideast”) close enough to theirs to be happy with his performance. And they won’t mind his lack of implied criticism of Muslim democracy, because their own implied criticism of Muslim democracy is meaningless. They never acknowledge that Muslim democracy MUST result (whether there is U.S. “management” of it or not) in Islamic sharia rule, suppression of non-Muslim minorities, particularly Christians, and increased anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism. They want the fig leaf of U.S. management so that they can blame the disasters attendant on Muslim democracy on Obama’s failure to manage it correctly.
A final point: among Romney’s criticisms of Obama’s weakness in the Mideast, he complained that Obama has not pushed forward the Israel-Palestinian “peace” process. So we can expect that a President Romney will strive to restart the “peace” process. This is a further index of how deeply and unthoughtfully Romney is immersed in conventional false views of the Mideast.