10/23/2009 – Stepping Away from Israel Will Weaken the United States

This op-ed by Mitt Romney appeared online at Union Leader on 10/23/2009. It is entitled Stepping Away from Israel Will Weaken the United States.

The world is fast becoming a more dangerous place. Liberty and peace are threatened in new and frightful ways. Russia is returning to its authoritarian ways, fueled by its energy stranglehold on Europe.

China has married the power of free enterprise with the oppression of Communist rule. Violent jihadists are fighting to crush people and nations across the globe.

And rogue nations with maniacal autocrats are recklessly pursuing nuclear capabilities that put the world in jeopardy. Left unchecked, a nuclear race will be joined by many, many others.

For all these reasons, America needs strong allies.

This is one reason why I am so very concerned by the current drift in our government’s relationship with Israel. In pursuit of a peace process, the United States today has exerted substantial pressure on Israel while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Consider how little we ask of the Arab world. Why is it that only Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements with Israel? What about Saudi Arabia? The Saudi government will not even sit in the same room as the Israelis, let alone normalize relations or work toward a realistic peace agreement. In 2007, at the height of the Olmert-Abbas peace talks, the Saudis were demanding that more U.S. companies comply with their boycott of Israel.

Israel, on the other hand, has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to a lasting and realistic peace. In 2005, for example, Israel handed over the Gaza strip to the Palestinians. This generous, unilateral act was met in return with rockets fired into Israel, with a coup by Hamas in Gaza and with two wars — one on the Lebanese border and another in Gaza.

We can encourage both parties in the conflict, but we must never forget which one is our ally. Nor must we forget that Hamas, like other violent jihadists, does not have a two-state solution as its objective. It has the conquest and annihilation of Israel as its objective. The notion that Hamas and violent Jihadists are motivated by “shared interests” and “common goals” is naive in the extreme and dangerous to the entire free world.

My concern extends to our entire foreign policy. If the U.S. government engages tyrannies and autocracies — countries like Iran and North Korea, Syria and Russia, Sudan and Zimbabwe — based on the conviction that we are dealing with common interests more than competing interests, it will not end well.

Keeping our word to our allies is a matter of honor, but it is also a matter of self-interest. The United States needs allies for economic, political and national security reasons. Good allies and strong alliances allow us to share the burdens we carry, complement and supplement our efforts and present a united front against those who wish us harm.

When we treat any ally in a desultory manner — and especially if we act in a way that causes them to question our reliability, our resolve, our commitment and staying power — then they as well as our other allies, all of whom are watching closely, will turn to others for their security.

When Poland and the Czech Republic are humiliated by us, they lose confidence in America’s support for them, and they may decide that they must incline more toward Russia.

If our friends in Latin America like Colombia become convinced that we are turning our back on them, they may feel compelled to become more accommodating to Hugo Chavez.

If Japan believes the United States is weakening its commitment in the Pacific, it may distance itself from America and draw closer to China.

When defenders of democracy and the rule of constitution and law in Honduras find that we have sided with their pro-Chavez illegal opposition, freedom fighters across the world, recalculate their chances for success.

And if Arab nations believe that we will accommodate Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East with nuclear weapons, they will move closer to that very nation.

Whenever or wherever America steps away from one of its friends and allies, or shrinks in the face of belligerent tyrants, those who are allied with us may understandably or inevitably step closer to our foes. The advance of human rights and the defense of liberty demand that America stands firm with its allies — all of them.

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