Tuesday Afternoon News Roundup – The Mitt Romney addition

I would like to go back to the gift that keeps on giving, Mitt Romney‘s secret video of one of his fundraisers. This was originally posted on the Mother Jones website about a month ago. In that video Mitt Romney said, “my dad, you know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents I’d had a better shot at winning this, but he was unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico.” Isn’t that just the knee slapper?

Although Mitt Romney would like to portray himself as a foreign-policy guru, he is not. Putting aside his foreign-policy speech that he made at VMI last week, he tells his $50,000 a plate buddies, “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel…” Now, just for a second, let’s pretend that what he said at VMI completely goes against what he said at this private ritzy dinner. Basically, Mitt Romney is saying there is no possible two-state solution. So, is he calling for the elimination of the Palestinian people? This completely changes our foreign-policy stance towards Israel and Palestine over the last two decades. Even George W. Bush sought a two state solution.

Mitt Romney doesn’t get it. Mitt Romney has never really understood what it’s going to take to keep America safe and what Americans truly need. I’m not gonna sit here and try to stereotype Mitt Romney. Instead, if we look at his actions and listen to his words, he does a pretty good job of stereotyping himself. Joking with folks that it would be easier to be elected president if you’re a minority? That’s simply crazy. But, it does play into a well-known stereotype. There’s a segment of the population that watches Fox News who believe that Barack Obama only got elected president because of white guilt. They believe that he was not a better campaigner than Hillary Rodham Clinton. I do not believe that many Americans voted for him simply because he was black.

As far as Mitt Romney’s foreign policy, this is more of the macho policy of the Bush administration. The Bush administration, as far as I can recall, never talked about trashing the two-state solution. They did talk about isolating Yasser Arafat, yet they did this. Of course, it did not solve the peace process. As a matter of fact, it made the peace process drag to a halt. We’re not to be able to intimidate, threaten or bully the Palestinians into peace. At the same time, the Palestinians are going to have to want peace as much as the Israelis.

The complexity of this issue is fantastically illustrated in the siege of the Church of the Nativity which took place in 2002. Basically, Israeli defense forces were chasing down Palestinian militants. Approximately 200 militants took refuge in the church, one of the holiest sites in all of Christendom. According to George Tenet, in his book, At the Center of the Storm, the complexity of the relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis is difficult to fathom. Plus, you add these militant groups and everything gets even more complex and volatile. The CIA was called in to help negotiate the standoff. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis had come to trust the CIA over the previous several years, as the CIA served as an intermediary in several peace negotiations. An original agreement was negotiated in which the Palestinian militants would be exiled from both Palestine and Israel. In spite of the fact that the Israelis originally proposed this idea, they ended up trashing the agreement. Back to square one. Now, the Israelis, who originally invited the CIA into the negotiations, asked the CIA to back off and let European negotiators try to fix the situation. The CIA backed out, European negotiators stepped in and negotiations were started anew. Several weeks passed. The Israelis cut off food entering the building. Israeli snipers also took out several Palestinians and wounded several church workers who were mistaken to be terrorists. The CIA was invited back into negotiations after a three-week stalemate. The final agreement was reached, but one of the big sticking points was what to do with the militant weapons. (This illustrates the difficulty of negotiating between two peoples with a history of over 2000 years of hostilities.) Once one side decided they wanted the weapons thrown into the Dead Sea, the other side decided they wanted the weapons thrown into the Mediterranean. Seriously. They argued over this. Finally, it was decided that the United States would confiscate the weapons. After 39 days, the siege was over. I only mention this siege because it is but one small incident which clearly illustrates the complexity of the situation, the great emotion involved, and the fact that there are no easy solutions. If anyone tells you they have the magic bullet which is going to fix the situation between Israel and Palestine, you should understand that that’s a man that needs to be pitied.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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