More footage from a secretly recorded video of Gov. Mitt Romney talking to donors says the Mideast peace process would be likely to languish under a Romney administration.
Gov. Romney tells donors at a $50,000 a plate fundraiser that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever” in peace with Israel.
“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it,” Romney tells donors.
Peter Feaver of Duke University says the Romney statements don’t differ markedly from President Obama’s current approach to Middle East peace.
“It will be a comment that [Romney] will have to go some lengths with the Palestinians counterparts to reassure them that he will work for their interests, as well as he will work for the interests of the Israelis, as well as he will work for the interests of the Americans,” Feaver says. “So probably it will require some outreach effort.”
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Lisa Mullins: I’m Lisa Mullins and this is “The World”. Mitt Romney is having a rough couple of days as excerpts of his leaked comments to a gathering of wealthy donors get a national airing. Last night, all the attention was on Romney dismissing forty-seven percent of Americans as “dependent on the government”. Today, it’s on the Republican candidate’s comments on Palestinians having “no interest in peace with Israel”. In this part of the leaked video Romney suggests that Mideast peace efforts would languish under his administration.
Mitt Romney: You move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.
Mullins: In case you couldn’t quite hear him, Romney said this about Mideast diplomacy: “You move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.” Peter Feaver worked in the staff of the National Security Council under both presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. We asked him what he made of Romney’s words.
Peter Feaver: That statement sounds like a pretty good summary of President Obama’s approach to Middle East peace right now. Of course, President Obama came into office with much higher hopes. He had campaigned on the premise that we could move forward rapidly on Israel-Palestinian peace process, he would lean on Israel more heavily than previous presidents had, and it failed as a tactic and, indeed, the peace process was paralyzed and has languished for the last several years. Governor Romney’s comments, to the extent I understand them, were reflecting that same kind of pessimistic outlook that neither side seems poised for the breakthrough peace agreement that everyone would like to see.
Mullins: It’s also, I think, bracing for some people, and maybe some people will think appropriately bracing, for a characterization of the Mideast peace process to be so blunt. You know, you can’t un-ring the bell. Is this the kind of characterization that will alienate parties to the conflict if he becomes President.
Feaver: It will be a comment that he will have to go some lengths with the Palestinian counterparts to reassure them that he will work for their interests as well as he will work for the interest of the Israelis as well as he’ll work for the interest of the Americans. So it probably will require some outreach effort.
Mullins: Will Mitt Romney have to walk it back?
Feaver: I expect that we’re going to see more clarification from the Romney Campaign on what the Governor’s views are on the peace process and I would be very surprised if he said, “There’s absolutely nothing we can do to improve the lives of Palestinians on the ground and nothing we can do to improve the lives of the Israelis on the ground. We should just wash our hands of it.” If he says that then he really does have a really different policy than President Obama or then the mainstream of US foreign policy. I suspect what he’s gonna say is we shouldn’t put all of our hopes in a big bang peace treaty, which is what President Obama did, instead we should be doing small steps on the ground that would improve the daily lives and that would build the trust that would be needed down the road for a big bang peace treaty.
Mullins: You are not an official advisor to the Romney Campaign. As an unofficial advisor, what would you recommend right now?
Feaver: Well, as an unofficial advisor, I would say that Governor Romney needs to speak forthrightly and clearly about his views on foreign policy across the board, but especially, of course, on the Middle East. The American people want to see that the person they elect to be President is ready to be commander and chief, and to do that you have to show your command of the issues and you have to explain to them your vision for America and the world. The Governor Romney did a lot of that early in the primary campaign, has not done as much in recent months as I think he needs to.
Mullins: Peter Feaver is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and a Bass Fellow at Duke University. Thank you, Peter.
Feaver: Thank you for having me.
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