The title of Mitt Romney’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today is “A New Course for the Middle East.” Now, that’s scary.
What Romney does in the piece isn’t complicated: the television images of angry crowds across the Muslim world chanting anti-American slogans, punctuated by the killing of the US ambassador to Libya, have rekindled fears among many voters that the world, once again, is going to hell, and that mustachioed and bearded Islamists are taking us there. Just like 1979. Never mind that nothing like that is happening at all. Romney, quick to inflame Americans’ fears rather than speak with reason, quick to incite the worst American instincts and quick to use racism and Islamophobia to stoke potential voters’ xenophobia, doesn’t care. Boo! he says. Or, as in the Journal op-ed:
Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel.
Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies. And that’s dangerous. If the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel’s security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom.
Listen to that! Slaughtered, terrorist, violent, murdered, upheaval, dangerous, chaos, maelstrom! All in a few sentences!
And why is all that happening? Says Romney: “An American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.”
So the idea is, President Obama isn’t being tough enough. It’s a sad attempt to recall the (faulty) notion that Iran released the US hostages because in 1979–81 they were so afraid of tough cowboy Ronald Reagan that they panicked and capitulated. Not only is that not what actually happened in the real world, but there’s this: Mitt Romney is no tough cowboy, no Reagan. If anything, he looks like the little boy who always had his lunch money stolen in school. It’s laughable to think that Ayatollah Khamenei is afraid of Romney.
Which brings up another silly point from Romney’s op-ed: according to him, if we “restor[e] our credibility with Iran,” everything will quiet down in the Middle East. Never mind that Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Indonesia and the other places where the bearded guys are acting up aren’t influenced in the slightest by our policy toward Iran. In fact, in many of those places, the angry, bearded Sunni extremists hate Iran’s Shiites. Romney’s op-ed is also about appealing to scared, Holocaust-fearing, older American Jews who usually vote Democrat. Boo! to them, too. Booga-booga!
President Obama said, and Romney excoriates him for this, that the recent wave of anger in the region – sparked by a film clip that looked like it was made by drunken high schoolers—was just a “bump in the road.” A molehill, so to speak, and it was. Leave it to Mitt to try to make it into a mountain, and an exploding volcano at that
For more on Romney and The Wall Street Journal, read Ben Adler on the paper’s failure to disclose the candidate’s advisors.