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While Mitt Romney's numerous international gaffes are gaining much attention, the Guardian warns us that Romney's policy declarations may be even more disconcerting in their potential for negative global consequences, and more compelling evidence he is not of the right calibre to be leader of the free world. Please give a quick read to Mitt Romney's Bad Trip, which makes me wonder why we, and the media, are not giving as much attention to his policy pronouncements, as we are to his gaffes. Someone here joked a few weeks ago, that Romney seemed to be pulling this gaffes to distract us from how much worse many of his policies would be.  

This editorial notes that Mitt Romney is such a "slippery character," it is difficult to know which of his pronouncement he would actually try to implement,  but they remind us of several which could be problematic.

Would he deliberately provoke Vladimir Putin, a leader who, apart from being naturally bellicose, thinks that standing up to the United States helps maintain his popularity at home? And would he carry out his threat to "review" the strategic arms limitation treaty? That would be a deeply counter-productive course, but it is the one that Romney has said he would follow.

Would he confront China on currency, trade and the South China Sea, perhaps adding fuel to the fire by supplying Taiwan with new weapons? That would be equally stupid, yet Romney has made statements that indicate he might do so.

(more below the squiggle)

Would he impose additional sanctions on Iran and take his tough line on Tehran to the point of war, as John Bolton, one of his foreign policy advisers, has come close to saying might be necessary? An attack on Iran would have incalculable consequences, but one thing would be certain: most of them would be bad, or worse than bad.

Would he discard Obama's timetable for troop withdrawals in Afghanistan, as he has said he might do after review, or even insist on keeping troops in Iraq ? That would be to fly in the face of the consensus that it is time both countries made their own way, for good or ill, in the wake of American intervention.

We are already seeing a backlash from Arab leaders to declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and support for a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran.

In Poland, perhaps, we will learn if Romney has figured out, yet, that Russia, is no longer the Soviet Union, and the many of the former Eastern Bloc countries are now in the Eurozone.  

Mitt Romney needs to submit to vigorous questioning from international and domestic press, on these major confusions, and/or radical changes he seems to propose to our foreign policy.  The idea that he can stonewall these questions, the same way he is stonewalling questions about his tax returns, Bain finances, and other questions is unacceptable.

I have to keep this short, today, as I am getting ready for my son to visit.  I hope we can raise the level of attention to a list of concrete policy issues which Mitt Romney needs to clarify, or improve to dispel the widely-held view that he is a "not-ready-for-prime-time-player."

Stop stonewalling Romney!  If you want to be President of the United States answer press questions, and release your tax returns to 1999.

8:55 AM PT: HuffPo reports that Romney's comparison of the relative per-capita GNP of Israel and the West Bank, with a "cultural explanation" is both racist, and ignorant of the consequences of occupation -- like blaming the victim.  

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."

"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

Palestinian reaction to Romney was swift and pointed.

"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."

Also, HuffPo has an article about John McCain being distressed by Romney's "self-deportation" policy.  

10:26 AM PT: The Wall Street Journal confirms Erekat's statement.  

http://online.wsj.com/...

Palestinian leaders's reactions were swift and pointed.

"It is a racist statement, and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Mr. Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."

"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Mr. Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence."

Mr. Romney made no mention of the fact that Israel has controlled the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since capturing them in 1967. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but continues to control access and has enforced a border blockade since the Islamic-militant group Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

In the West Bank, Israel retains overall control, and Palestinians only have limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the West Bank and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have said the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.

10:43 AM PT: The Washington Post adds details to Romney's Palestinian culture remarks and also adds description of Romney's praise of Israel's health care system apparently while he is unaware that it a universal coverage plan that includes an individual mandate.  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Romney said he had studied a book called “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” searching for an answer about why two neighboring places--the U.S. and Mexico, for instance, or Israel and the Palestinian areas--could have such disparate prosperity.

“Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said, repeating the conclusion he drew from that book, by David Landes. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

Romney also said he recognized “hand of providence in selecting this place.”

For Romney, the episode seemed another misstep in an overseas trip that has brought home the difficulty of being a candidate abroad.

At the same fundraiser in Israel, Romney also noted that Israel spends just 8 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, while the United States spends 18 percent. “We have to find ways,” he said, “not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to [fund] and manage our health care costs.”

He did not note that Israel’s health care system contains some features that Republicans have attacked when they were proposed in the U.S. Israel has universal health care, with a mandatory requirement to obtain health insurance.

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