Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to the media after visiting a firehouse on May 1, 2012 in New York City.
*Just several hours after Mitt Romney accused President Obama of politicizing the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, the GOP presidential candidate was at a New York City event with former mayor Rudy Guiliani — marking the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
And he was heckled to boot.
Romney was campaigning with Giuliani at the firehouse where the city set up its first response center in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It was an event intended to burgeon Romney’s foreign policy credentials while pushing back at Obama and his campaign, which suggested Romney wouldn’t have given the order to a team of Navy Seals to enter Pakistan to take out bin Laden.
But Romney’s remarks on the street outside the firehouse were overshadowed by a female heckler, who repeatedly screamed, “Mitt Romney is a racist!” as the presumptive Republican candidate gave brief remarks and took questions. While never explicitly acknowledged by Romney, the protester was clearly audible on television broadcasts of the event, and the former governor spoke for just around five minutes before hurrying into a nearby SUV.
Media reports said the heckler was associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. [Scroll down to watch.]
The governor left so quickly that Giuliani stuck around to field more questions — prompting Romney to dart back and thank him for his support.
“I didn’t realize you were still here,” Romney said with a laugh, shaking the hand of his former rival.
The scene encapsulated many of the difficulties Romney has faced in recent days as the president has worked to play up the achievement of finding and killing the terrorist leader. Again Tuesday afternoon, Romney said that the president deserved credit for authorizing the raid.
“This of course is on the anniversary of the day when Osama bin Laden finally was taken out and we respect and admire the many people who were a part of that,” Romney said.
But Romney reiterated his earlier argument that suggesting he would not have done the same was “an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together.” Giuliani echoed that sentiment in his comments after Romney left the station.
“I wish he wouldn’t use it as a source of negative campaigning,” Giuliani says. “I think that’s a big mistake. And I think he’s mischaracterizing what Mitt Romney said.”
The Obama campaign has pointed out that in 2007, Romney said “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”
Romney was asked about the Obama campaign’s charges during the question and answer period, but partially sidestepped, focusing instead on his previous critique of Obama openly acknowledging that he would travel into Pakistan, if necessary, to capture Bin Laden.
Romney said that, like then-Sen. Joe Biden during the 2008, he objected to Obama openly declaring he would cross the border into Pakistan.
“It was naïve of the president to announce he would go into Pakistan,” Romney said. Romney went on to say “many people” at that time shared that view and that while “we reserve the right to go where we feel is appropriate” to capture terrorist leaders, he didn’t believe it was well-advised to advertise that fact.
*Once upon a time a war meant two groups of people trying to kill each other. Resources were diverted, populations were mobilized. A war meant everyone being on the same page and working toward a common goal.
In American history we’ve had the following military conflicts: The French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Mexican American War, The Civil War, The Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II.
But since the end of the second world war things have changed. Wars have become a lot less all or nothing – The Cold War, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and two Gulf Wars. In each of these conflicts the high stakes of war was lowered. The Cold War pitted two ideologies against one another; The Korean War resulted in a stalemate; The Vietnam War saw the United States fail to accomplish its objective; the goal of the first Gulf War was dialed back so far that it didn’t resolve the central issue and left the door open for a second Gulf War.
The watering down of the concept of war not only affected American foreign policy but also our domestic vocabulary.
Since the end of World War II, the last military conflict in which global domination was at stake, policy makers in the United States frequently use the rhetoric of war to describe their program initiatives. Currently you can find information on the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Youth, War on Guns, War on Religion, War on Women, War on Whistleblowers, War on Democracy, War on Success, War on Kids, War on Moms, War on Birth Control, and a War on Science in the first few pages of search results.
Certainly it all of these “wars” deal with important issues facing the United States today but just as certain is that they are not wars. Using the word war to describe a policy that attempts to eliminate some types of drug use/trafficking is ridiculous. It cheapens the concept a do or die struggle and lessens the credibility of the speaker.
Notice that this is the modus operendi of both Democrats (War on Women) and Republicans (War on Religion). And this is the perhaps the worst part of this rhetorical development. The people whose job it is to come to agreement about what is best for our country are painting themselves into a corner by characterizing programs “wars.”
There is very little room for compromise in a war. But compromise is exactly what is needed for good governance.
It is time for our elected leaders to stop with the word play and come to some basic agreements about what is good and necessary for our country. That may mean figuring out which policies to aggressively pursue, but it most definitely not mean a group of people out to kill another.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.
*The nation state of Israel is at the center of the most of America’s foreign policy problems and the war on terror as both pertain to the Middle East.
The state of Israel, with its establishment in 1948 came at a time when the United States was beginning to step into its role as the most powerful country on earth and at the onset of America’s global conflict with the Soviet Union. And because of this timing the United States made a strong show of supporting Israel and attempting to influence international relations in that region of the world in a way that would benefit Israel.
President Eisenhower (1953-1961) based his Cold War policy around those concepts.
In doing so the United States made enemies throughout the region among countries that were religiously predisposed to oppose Israel. But America also angered those nations that were more secular in nature but didn’t appreciate being treated as pawns in the Cold War.
Essentially the establishment of Israel led to America’s pro-Israel stance, which led to opposition among other nations in that part of the world toward not only Israel but also the United States. Fast forward 25 years and America’s policies yielded a hostage crisis in Iran which led to American support of Iraq and Soviet aggression in Afghanistan led to American support of Afghan militias.
Today the situation has morphed into two massive military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan that are draining American funds and manpower. In addition, outside of North Korea, the American position of battling terrorism is concentrated in Western Asia.
Because of the reality that the United States is the richest country in the world, it cannot cease to be a target. But the easiest way to decrease the likelihood of attacks on America would be to help to establish a Palestinian state. Doing so would forward American interests in several ways.
First, it would elevate the United States’ reputation among those Middle Eastern nations that are religiously opposed to Israel because it is a Jewish nation on what they perceive to be Muslim lands. Palestine would a Muslim country reclaiming some of that land.
Second, for the countries that contest the United States driving policy in the Middle East, American support of Palestine would probably be the only instance of American intervention they would defend.
Third, there is popular support for Palestine in the international community as evidenced by the response to their delegations attempt to be seated at the United Nations. Sponsoring Palestinian nationhood would only enhance America’s good standing among the nations of the world outside of the Middle East. These three effects would lessen the need for a war on terror.
The Cold War dominated American foreign policy for the second half of the 20th century. But the United States has not totally divorced itself from its Cold War positions. The support for a nation state for refugee Palestinians would illustrate a fresh outlook and forward American interests. It’s time.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at email@example.com
*The proposed mosque near ground zero drew hundreds of fever-pitch demonstrators Sunday, with opponents carrying signs associating Islam with blood, supporters shouting, “Say no to racist fear!” and American flags waving on both sides.
The two leaders of the construction project, meanwhile, defended their plans, though one suggested that organizers might eventually be willing to discuss an alternative site. The other, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said during a Middle East trip that the attention generated by the project is actually positive and that he hopes it will bring greater understanding.
Around the corner from the cordoned-off old building that is to become a 13-story Islamic community center and mosque, police separated the two groups of demonstrators. There were no reports of physical clashes but there were some nose-to-nose confrontations, including a man and a woman screaming at each other across a barricade under a steady rain.