International

America’s Appalling Leadership Deficit

It doesn’t take a genius or a rocket scientist to surmise what U.S. and its policies would be like under a ‘President Romney’, given his recent foray into the world of global politics. But while the rest of the world is simply left askance-with ample display of this multi-millionaire’s appalling ignorance of the nuances of international diplomacy-the Muslim world has been given a lot to mull over what U.S. would do to it if, God forbid, an ignoramus like him lands in the White House, come next November.

Desperate to make his mark on the international diplomacy’s somewhat crowded stage, Mitt Romney, the man set to win the Republican Party’s nomination in a few weeks to run against President Obama in November’s presidential race, embarked on an overseas journey to ‘dazzle’ and impress the outside world with his ‘brilliant’ diplomatic skills. He and his minions aimed at proving to the world that the man was up to anybody’s expectations of a worthy rival to Obama and could give the seasoned current occupant of the Oval Office a befitting match worth any punter’s money.

But the principal objective of Romney’s foray into world diplomacy was to ingratiate himself with the powerful and well-heeled-in terms of their abundant purse-strings-Jewish lobbies in U.S. whose near-choke-hold over American electoral politics-and by implication on the entire gamut of U.S. foreign policy, in particular-is beyond dispute.

 Looming large over his itinerary was a well-calibrated visit to Israel-a veritable jewel in any American politician’s crown, especially those seeking higher office. Also tucked in as a tactical move to please his Jewish donors, in general, and his Zionist supporters, in particular, was an appearance at Poland’s famous Auschwitz concentration camp, where tens of thousands of Jews were sent to the gas chamber by Hitler’s Nazis during WWII.

Of course, Romney wasn’t the first White House hopeful to make a trek to Israel, the main bastion of Zionism in the world. The man he’s going to challenge at the polls to the White House, Barack Obama, is the trail-blazer to ‘pilgrimage to Israel’. As a contender to the highest office in U.S., Obama, too, had launched himself on to the global stage by visiting Israel -- and Israel alone -- completely shunning the Occupied West Bank as if that piece of earth and its incarcerated Palestinians groaning under the cruel heels of Israeli occupation for the past 45 years didn’t exist at all, or didn’t matter as far as he was concerned.

Romney, no doubt, sought to do even better and go one-up on Obama. So a visit to Poland was obviously worked into his itinerary to show that his heart was more profusely bleeding over Jewish suffering than Obama’s and he was a more redoubtable friend of the Zionists than Obama could ever aspire to.

But Romney didn’t wish to be seen as a partisan of Israel only and decided to make an appearance in London before going on to Israel. His handlers and advisers may have reasoned that while Israel is, without doubt, the principal ally and votary of U.S., Britain used to have that position, in the past, until the swelling tide of Jewish favours knocked Britain off that pedestal.

How naïve and tentative Mitt Romney-otherwise pretending to be tall enough to lead the ‘free world’-could be came into dazzling display in the course of his London sojourn.

Romney’s handlers and media-savvy ‘gurus’ had timed his London visit to work like a charm offensive because it was well in sync with the Olympics kicking off there; he made a grand appearance in London on the eve of the Games’ inaugural. But what his minions and media ‘experts’ hadn’t taken into their calculations was their man’s sub-standard intelligence and pathetic sense of humour. So Romney ended up with a lot of egg on his face when he cast doubt, publicly, on London’s readiness to launch the games with finesse. His jibe being below the belt and nasty, his hosts reacted with predictable ire because he’d raised their heckles. The notoriously reactive British press known the world over for its incisive repartee summed up the vicious fallout best, calling him a ‘party pooper.’

Romney’s media pundits tried to explain away his boorish behaviour as a diplomatic faux pas or an unfortunate gaffe, which wasn’t so outrageous given the fact that he’s a novice on the international stage.

However, Romney couldn’t be given any benefit of doubt for what he did in Israel: to heap tons of praise on his Israeli hosts, and pour scorn on the Palestinians, the quarries of Israel’s brutal and repressive occupation of their land.

It was a pathetic performance of kowtowing to Israeli whims and fancies by a man aspiring to occupy the most powerful elective office in the world. Romney seemed as good, or bad, as prostrating himself before his Israeli mentors and patrons and literally licking their feet in order to get their nod of approval for his candidacy.

Of course it has become an unwritten, but cardinal, maxim of U.S. electoral politics that any aspirant to office-be that the White House, state governorship, Senate or the House of Representative-mustn’t do anything that doesn’t sit well with Israel and its votary lobbies and pressure groups. By the same token, every candidate, to any office, must only articulate those thoughts and themes that are kosher with the Zionists, at both home and in Israel.

But Romney seemed more eager than anybody else to earn from the Israelis and the American-based Jewish lobbies what is commonly known in the American parlance as ‘brownie points.’ His antics and shenanigans weren’t confined to photo-opportunities, such as praying at the Wailing Wall and wearing a Jewish skull cap to go with it. It could be argued in his defence that he wasn’t breaking new ground in this field: the current occupant of the Oval Office had performed the same ritual four years ago to get a place in the good books of his Israeli mentors.

It was Romney’s inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinians that incensed those who would somehow still expect to find some semblance of even-handedness in the American handling of the prickly Israeli-Palestinian equation. Indeed, one will have to have an extra dose of optimism, if not naivete, to expect even-handedness in American policy on the ME question, given the weird nature of U.S. politics where right only belongs to Israel. What the Israelis say or do is the Gospel truth to the American politicians and leaders; whatever others say is peripheral and expendable.

But Romney went overboard and crossed all limits in being a supplicant to the Israelis and a conniving hangman against the Palestinians.

Romney shed tears over ‘thousands of rockets’ raining down on Israeli towns from Gaza but his eyes remained fully shut to the unremitting suffering of the Gazans and other Palestinians under Israel’s brutal occupation. He boasted of his readiness to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem-which he sanctified as the ‘sole capital’ of Israel-but uttered not a word in condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. By the same token, Romney, a purblind votary of Israeli expansionism, sanctioned Israel’s right to defend its territory-including the illegal settlements-against anyone challenging its usurpation.

But there was more to come: insult over injury. Addressing a crowd of his Israeli admirers with deep pockets at a fund-raiser for him at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, Romney waxed eloquent of Israel’s impressive achievements, while comparing them to the ‘dismal’ performance of the Palestinians-non-achievers and laggards, in his blinkered intelligence.

This was evidence as if Israel’s relentless persecution and occupation didn’t exist as far as Romney’s convoluted thinking went. No mention, at all, of Israel’s unremitting blockade of the Palestinians; its suffocating choke-hold over the Territory and Gaza that restricts not only the movement of people but also of basic ingredients essential for any economic enterprise.

It was nothing else but racism, as brute and naked as one could expect from a petty-minded political upstart anxious to please his big Israeli and Jewish donors. He went overboard in his incontinent urge to eulogise what he described as the cultural superiority of the Jews over their rivals.

But Romney didn’t only betray his racism and Arab-phobia but his ignorance of ground realities came out loud and swinging in his trite condemnation of the Palestinians. He said “The GDP per capita in Israel is about $21,000. Compare that with the GDP just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita…Culture makes all the difference.”

The figures and statistics quoted by Romney were all wrong: Israel’s per capita income is $31,000, while that in the West Bank and Gaza is less than $3,000. Which raises a very relevant and pertinent question: was he putting his appalling ignorance and poor information on public display, inadvertently, or was he deliberately spinning the actual figures to shield the inhumanity and cruelty of the Israeli occupation that has driven the hapless Palestinians into a dungeon of misery and suffering?

But his harping on the cultural differences undeniably gave out his biases against the Palestinians and the Arabs aplenty. The Palestinian Authority spokesperson, Saeb Erekat, rightly accused him of being a racist and pointedly added: “He (Romney) also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I’ve not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

However, in keeping with the current convoluted and weird dynamics of U.S. politics-and its politicos’ brinkmanship on the issue of Iran-Romney had his harshest words reserved for Iran and its alleged priority to become a nuclear power.

What could only be music to the ears of his Israeli interlocutors and audiences, Romney sanctified Benjamin Netanyahu’s war-mongering against Iran and implied that he would throw his weight behind any Israeli military blitz against the so-called Iranian nuclear facilities and targets. Later, Romney’s spin doctors made a half-hearted attempt to water down the impact of their man’s bravado but the damage had been done.

That, perhaps, was the intention: serve a notice on Iran that a Republican man in the White House would be as truculent and hostile to them as the incumbent Democratic man; while reassuring the Israeli hawks that no matter how ill-timed or inconvenient a solo Israeli blitz against Iran may be deemed, or proved to, Washington would just look the other way, if not actually throwing its weight behind the Israeli aggression. The bottomline couldn’t be anything other than letting the Israeli expansionists, hawks and war-mongers know, beyond any shade of doubt, that political affiliations or stripes were meaningless as far as U.S. partisanship of Israeli policies and interests was concerned.

Romney’s jaunt across Europe and ME as a putative American ‘statesman’ and leader may have caused ripples-lots of them, in fact-across the globe, especially in the Islamic world, and it actually did. Anyone listening with his ears opened to Romney’s rhetoric and seeing his shenanigans and antics in disbelief must have shuddered at the thought of a man as reckless and whimsical as him ascending to the apex of U.S. politics. To say the very least, a dangerously Quixotic and inebriated man is strutting on to the world stage with a mentality that goes back to the days of European colonialism and imperialism.

At the same time, there should be sobering thoughts calling the attention of those pundits who would want to analyse the trends in U.S. domestic politics and on the basis of that venture into projections of its policies, worldwide. It’s pathetic, almost mind-boggling, to note how eager and anxious most, if not all, aspiring American politicians are to kowtow at the altar of Zionist agenda of regional, if not global, domination. It’s a revolting scene to see elective hopefuls and incumbents of the world’s mightiest military power making a pilgrimage to Israel an essential tool of their campaign and seeking the blessings of its leaders, policy makers and donors to get to their goal. William Shakespeare would’ve befittingly observed: ‘O, what a fall.’

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2012 on page no. 18

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