Romney Ups the Ante in Israel

Exclusive: Mitt Romney took his campaign to Israel with a belligerent speech suggesting that he, as President, would happily support an Israeli war against Iran. In a major foreign policy speech, he also ignored Palestinian rights and repeated some old Mideast canards, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an audience of Israelis and some wealthy pro-Israel Americans that he is prepared to employ “any and all measures” to stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons “capability,” a vague concept that arguably already exists.

Romney’s speech in Jerusalem on Sunday was accompanied by a comment from his top foreign policy adviser Dan Senor seeming to endorse an Israeli unilateral strike against Iran. “If Israel has to take action on its own,” Senor said, “the governor would respect that decision.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London. (Photo credit:

In what was widely interpreted as an attempt by Romney to peel some Jewish votes and particularly Jewish financial support away from President Barack Obama, Romney insisted that he has long supported an aggressive strategy against Iran.

“Five years ago, at the Herzliya Conference [on Israeli security], I stated my view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world,” Romney said on Sunday. “That threat has only become worse.

“Now as then, the conduct of Iran’s leaders gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material. But today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.

“We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

By elevating Iran’s achievement of a nuclear weapons “capability” to America’s “highest national security priority” and vowing to “employ any and all measures” to prevent that eventuality, Romney is essentially threatening war against Iran under the current situation. In that, he is going beyond the vague language used by President Obama, who himself has sounded belligerent with his phrasing about “all options on the table” to stop Iran if it moves to build a nuclear weapon.

However, the nuance here is significant, since U.S. intelligence agencies and even their Israeli counterparts have concluded that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon even as it makes progress in a nuclear program that Iranian leaders say is for peaceful purposes only. Still, those lessons from a peaceful nuclear program arguably can give a country a nuclear weapons “capability.” [See’s ““US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes.”]

In recent months, American neoconservatives and sympathetic journalists have slipped in the new weasel word “capability” in the face of complaints that the earlier formulation about Iran seeking nuclear weapons was contradicted by the U.S. intelligence assessment. For most casual readers, the subtle change was barely noted but the word “capability” can mean pretty much anything.

To deny Iran a nuclear “capability” would almost surely require a war between the United States and Iran, a course that some neocons have been quietly desiring for at least the past decade when the Iraq invasion was seen as a first step to bringing “regime change” to Iran or as some neocons joked at the time, “real men go to Tehran.”

Indeed, the massive U.S. Embassy in Baghdad which now sits increasingly idle can be best understood as the intended imperial command center for a new American dominance of the region. But those neocon plans were spoiled by the disastrous turn of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and ultimately America’s forced military withdrawal from the country at the end of 2011.

Usual Misquote

Romney’s speech in Israel was also peppered with the usual exaggerations about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making threats about “wiping this nation off the map.” Though that quote is now widely known to be a mistranslation, U.S. leaders, including President Obama, have continued to cite it as part of their tough-talking indictment of Iranian intentions.

Indeed, repeating the bogus quote has become almost an expected signal of support for Israel. Romney even mocked those who note the mistranslation as something of Ahmadinejad apologists by adding: “only the naive or worse will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric.”

Beyond Romney’s full-throated advocacy of Israeli policies in the Middle East, his speech was also notable in that he made no reference to Palestinian rights or the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Romney’s references to the Palestinians were limited to his condemnation of Hamas, the militant group that now governs Gaza.

To drive his apparent disdain for Palestinian rights home, Romney referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, something the Obama administration avoids because the Palestinians hope that East Jerusalem might someday become the capital of their future state.

Besides ignoring Palestinian desires for statehood and self-determination, Romney finished his speech with flowery and some might say hypocritical rhetoric about the commitment of the United States and Israel to the rule of law and to democracy. He said:

“We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation’s course. We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak. We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator. 

“I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones.

“No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth:  A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel. And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone. We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.

“By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together.  No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.”

The New York Times reported that among the Americans flown to Israel to witness Romney’s speech were casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has vowed to spend $100 million to defeat Obama; Cheryl Halpern, a New Jersey Republican and advocate for Israel; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets; John Miller, chief executive of the National Beef Packing Company; John Rakolta, a Detroit real estate developer; L. E. Simmons, the owner of a private-equity firm in Texas with ties to the oil industry; Paul Singer, founder of a $20 billion hedge fund; and Eric Tanenblatt, a Romney fund-raiser in Atlanta.

[For the full text of Romney’s speech, click here.]

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

16 comments for “Romney Ups the Ante in Israel

  1. Sidney18511
    August 1, 2012 at 13:39

    Why do you think that bibi had a prune face on during his last American visit, why did he feel the need to mock Obama? Because Obama is not going to be lead by the nose into attacking Iran, at the cost of billions and blood to the American people. Romney who is running for president because he has nothing left to buy and thinks power of the presidency would be nice, sees the citizens he would govern as chess pieces. The man has no core, no empathey, and does not give a shit about the 99%. You can tell that what Obama says in private to bibi is not what he wants to hear, so he will place his money on Romney, who is an empty suit.

  2. Morton Kurzweil
    August 1, 2012 at 11:00

    Does “Upping the Ante” include sending his sons to war?
    Mitt talks tough but he avoided the draft by spending those
    years in France selling his Mormon delusions sophisticated
    public that saw through his act.

  3. Rios559
    July 31, 2012 at 18:34

    Who still listens to this “all people should chose their leaders” garbage u.s. Leaders spew each day? Also why has nobody wrote about the peaceful things you can do with nuclear enrichment?

  4. canary #8
    July 31, 2012 at 12:03

    Formal logic: Major premise: If we haven’t learned anything from the run up to war because of propaganda about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”, we are seriously stupid.
    Minor premise: Mitt Romney is duplicating that propaganda in
    his promotion of Israel’s making war on Iran–for its supposed WMD.
    Conclusion: Mitt Romney is seriously stupid.

  5. bobzz
    July 30, 2012 at 20:48

    On a more serious note, this whole thing is Iran is unusually sensitive. 1) China imports a goodly percentage of its oil from Iran. They may not stand idly by while we do surgical strikes. 2) Russian missiles are highly advanced—well beyond US ships’ capacity for timely detection. I have no idea how many they have sent to Iran, but they will make our ships sitting ducks. Recall the Faulklands War. The Argentine AF only had five French Exocet missiles and sunk two British ships with many lives lost. More Exocets and Argentina would have won that fracas. Russia’s missiles are much more advanced than the Exocet, and Russia would love to get even with us for sending stinger missiles to help the mujahedeen chase them out of Afghanistan.

  6. bobzz
    July 30, 2012 at 14:04

    Look at it this way. Elect Romney and you get two presidents for one—Mitt and Bibl.

  7. JonnyJames
    July 30, 2012 at 12:22

    More Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy
    (Glenn Greenwald)
    When Rs bow and scrape to The Lobby, it is an outrage. When Ds do it, well it’s perfectly fine. To admit that BOTH parties are complicit in war crimes, fraud, corruption and high treason is just not possible for those mired in denial and stricken with Stockholm Syndrome.

    • ilse
      July 30, 2012 at 13:05

      Yes, both parties are complicit in war crimes, fraud, corruption, and high treason.
      However, this article is concerned with Romney….the really empty suit.

      • JonnyJames
        July 30, 2012 at 15:05

        Yes, however why does this site perpetuate the hypocrisy that Greenwald, Hedges, Chomsky, Parenti and many others point out?

  8. July 30, 2012 at 12:21

    Ken Doll Mittens is a punk Mormon version of dry drunk Bush2, ignorant bs full of thinly veiled eugenics bs from the Book of Fantasy, ahh Mormon. He could give a s**t about their econ, he cares about his and only HIS in tax shelters buried all over the world. Wake up WalMart fat asses. You’re being hussled again. OBAMA is a weakling however I don’t blame you for being put off, however MISS Bush yet? You got em back, say MITTENS!!!

  9. July 30, 2012 at 11:42

    A vote for Obamney is a vote for Israeli domination of U.S. foreign policies and for a growing Israeli-styled police state in the USA.

    There is no “lesser evil” when both candidates are puppets and the puppeteers are the radicals of the Jewish diaspora.

    Get to know these terms: mishpuka, sayanim

    Our ‘special’ ally Israel seeks to permanently transform USA just as the Bolsheviks conquered Czarist Russia and installed Marxism (Jewish communism). The “Obamney” are simply agents of Israel–Trojan horses beholden to the Jewish state.

    • Hillary
      July 30, 2012 at 12:03

      “There is no “lesser evil” when both candidates are puppets and the puppeteers are the radicals of the Jewish diaspora.”

      Juden uber alles.

      When will it ever end ?

      • ilse
        July 30, 2012 at 12:53

        You are right: there is no lesser evil.
        It might end when people realize that they are forever being manipulated by the radicals of the Jewish diaspora. Manipulation and financial profit seeking has become part of their genetic heritage. It is part of their religious heritage, as well.

      • lexy
        July 30, 2012 at 13:54

        It will end only when we are all dead from a nuclear conflagration. These Zionists will NEVER be frightened into stopping their continual efforts to control governments all over the world. They have nuclear weapons including nuclear subs;courtesy of Germany;which makes their “Samson” option very credible. Nothing can be done, its all over. Israel will be master of this world.

  10. GeriS
    July 30, 2012 at 11:35

    Romney’s an ass and a one-term Governor of MA. We couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. I never voted for him. What’s he doing in the Middle East? He’s a nobody at this point, just trying to become President. Well, he isn’t, and hopefully, will never be the President of the United States. Obama 2012!!

    • ilse
      July 30, 2012 at 12:47

      Exactly. He’s a nobody at this point, not even a governor. He is the most obnoxious guy on earth. Gross and simply despicable in manner and looks. Standing always with his mouth open and a stupid grin on his face. If he thinks he looks intelligent, he should examine the looks of some intelligent people. He is nothing but a model for a silly suit ad. If he becomes president, this country will be dead. Going after Iran with his idiotic rhetoric… what a moron.
      I hope people will wake up and realize what a canard he is.

Comments are closed.