October 11, 2012, Issue #185
HUDSON VALLEY ACTIVIST NEWSLETTER
email@example.com, P.O. Box 662, New Paltz, NY 12561
1. NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION FOR 20% OF AMERICANS
2. CHÁVEZ: LEFT TREND CONTINUES
3. CHÁVEZ: A VICTORY FOR LATIN AMERICA
4. THE OVERWROUGHT EMPIRE
5. ROMNEY'S VAGUE FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH
Editor's Note: The reelection of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez by a margin of 11% is of exceptional importance for the entire leftward trend in Latin America, and a blow to Washington. We publish two articles on the election below. One is by progressive Mark Weisbrot and was published in the Oct. 9 International Herald Tribune. The other is by socialist Gloria LaRiva and was published Oct. 8 by Liberation News.
1. NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION FOR 20% OF AMERICANS
[Following is an excerpt from the executive summary of an important new report released Oct. 9 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on the drop in religious affiliation among the American people.]
By the Pew Forum
The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public (19.6%) — and a third of adults under 30 — are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans — sometimes called the rise of the “nones” — is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives.
These generational differences are consistent with other signs of a gradual softening of religious commitment among some (though by no means all) Americans in recent decades. Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the last 10 years, for example, find modest growth in the number of people who say they seldom or never attend religious services, as well as a declining number who say they never doubt the existence of God.
In addition to religious behavior, the way that Americans talk about their connection to religion seems to be changing. Increasingly, Americans describe their religious affiliation in terms that more closely match their level of involvement in churches and other religious organizations. In 2007, 60% of those who said they seldom or never attend religious services nevertheless described themselves as belonging to a particular religious tradition. In 2012, just 50% of those who say they seldom or never attend religious services still retain a religious affiliation — a 10-point drop in five years. These trends suggest that the ranks of the unaffiliated are swelling in surveys partly because Americans who rarely go to services are more willing than in the past to drop their religious attachments altogether.
With their rising numbers, the religiously unaffiliated are an increasingly important segment of the electorate. In the 2008 presidential election, they voted as heavily for Barack Obama as white evangelical Protestants did for John McCain. More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72%) and same-sex marriage (73%). In the last five years, the unaffiliated have risen from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic.
In 2007 Pew Research Center surveys, 15.3% of U.S. adults answered a question about their current religion by saying they were atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” The number of religiously unaffiliated respondents has ticked up each year since, and now stands at 19.6%.
While the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown significantly over the past five years, the Protestant share of the population has shrunk. In 2007, 53% of adults in Pew Research Center surveys described themselves as Protestants. In surveys conducted in the first half of 2012, fewer than half of American adults say they are Protestant (48%). This marks the first time in Pew Research Center surveys that the Protestant share of the population has dipped significantly below 50%.
One important factor behind the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. Among the youngest Millennials (those ages 18-22, who were minors in 2007 and thus not eligible to be interviewed in Pew Research Center surveys conducted that year), fully one-third (34%) are religiously unaffiliated, compared with about one-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (9%) and one-in-twenty members of the World War II-era Greatest Generation (5%). Older Millennials (ages 23-30) also are substantially less likely than prior generations to be religiously affiliated.
But generational replacement is not the only factor at play. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers also have become more religiously unaffiliated in recent years. In 2012, 21% of Gen Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up slightly (but by statistically significant margins) from 18% and 12%, respectively, since 2007. The trend lines for earlier generations are essentially flat....
This report includes findings from a nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, using both landlines and cell phones, among a representative sample of 2,973 adults. In partnership with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, the Pew Forum conducted an additional 511 interviews with religiously unaffiliated adults between June 28 and July 10, producing a total sample of 958 religiously unaffiliated respondents in the new survey....
— The full executive summary and a link to the 80-page full report is at http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
2. CHÁVEZ ELECTION: LEFT TREND CONTINUES
Hugo Chávez was re-elected president of Venezuela on Oct. 7, by a margin of 11%. For most people who have heard or read about Chávez in the international media, this might be puzzling. Almost all of the news we hear about Venezuela is bad: Chávez is cantankerous and picks fights with the United States and sides with “enemies” such as Iran; he is a “dictator” or “strongman” who has squandered the nation’s oil wealth; the economy is plagued by shortages and is usually on the brink of collapse.
Then there is the other side of the story: since the Chávez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half and extreme poverty by 70%. College enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time, and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.
So it is not surprising that most Venezuelans would re-elect a president who has improved their living standards. That’s what has happened with all of the left governments that now govern most of South America: they have been re-elected. This is despite the fact that they, like Chávez, have most of their countries’ media against them, and their opposition also has most of the wealth and income of their respective countries.
The list includes Rafael Correa, re-elected President of Ecuador by a wide margin in 2009; the enormously popular Lula da Silva of Brazil, re-elected in 2006, and successfully campaigned for his former Chief of Staff, now President Dilma Rousseff, in 2010; Evo Morales, Bolvia’s first indigenous president in a majority indigenous country, re-elected in 2009; José Mujica succeeded his predecessor from the same political alliance in Uruguay — the Frente Amplio -- in 2009; Cristina Fernández succeeded her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, winning the 2011 Argentine presidential election by a solid margin — also with the largest media against her.
All of these left presidents and their political parties won re-election because, like Chávez, they brought significant, and in some cases huge, improvements in living standards. They all originally campaigned against “neoliberalism,” a word used to describe the policies of the prior 20 years, when Latin America experienced its worst long term economic growth failure in more than a century.
Not surprisingly, the other left governments have seen Venezuela as part of a team that has brought more democracy, national sovereignty, and economic and social progress to the region. Yes, democracy, too: even the much-maligned Venezuela is recognized by most scholarly research as more democratic than it was in the pre-Chávez era.
And democracy was at issue when South America stood together against Washington on such issues as the 2009 military coup in Honduras. The differences were so pronounced that they led to the formation of a new hemispheric-wide organization including everyone but the U.S. and Canada, as an alternative to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States.
Here is Brazil's Lula last month: “A victory for Chávez (in the upcoming election) is not just a victory for the people of Venezuela but also a victory for all the people of Latin America . . . this victory will strike another blow against imperialism.” The other left presidents have the same views of Chávez.
The Bush administration pursued a strategy of trying to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors, and ended up isolating itself. President Obama promised in the 2009 Summit of the Americas to pursue a different course; but he didn’t, and at the 2012 Summit he was as isolated as his predecessor.
Although the media has been dominated by stories of Venezuela’s impending economic collapse for more than a decade, it hasn’t happened and is not likely to happen. After recovering from a recession that began in 2009, during the world economic crisis, the Venezuelan economy has been growing for two-and-a-half years now and inflation has fallen sharply while growth has accelerated. The country has a sizeable trade surplus. Its public debt is relatively low and so is its debt service burden. It has plenty of room to borrow foreign currency (it has borrowed $36 billion from China, mostly at very low interest rates), and can borrow domestically as well at low or negative real interest rates. So even if oil prices were to crash temporarily (as in 2008-2009), there would be no need for austerity or recession. And hardly anyone is predicting a long-term collapse of oil prices.
The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has persisted for more than half a century, despite its obvious stupidity and failure. U.S. hostility toward Venezuela is only about 12 years old, but shows no sign of being reconsidered, despite that it is also alienating the rest of the hemisphere.
Venezuela has about 500 billion barrels of oil and is burning them currently at a rate of one billion barrels a year. Chávez or a successor from the same party will likely be governing the country for many years to come. The only question is when — if ever – Washington will accept the results of democratic change in the region.
— From the International Herald Tribune 10-9-12. Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.
3. CHÁVEZ ELECTION: A VICTORY FOR LATIN AMERICA
By Gloria La Riva
With 54.42% of a record-turnout vote, Hugo Chávez has won a fourth term as president of Venezuela in a race widely recognized as a crucial struggle between the progressive forces of the “Bolivarian Revolution” and the right-wing opposition of U.S.-backed Henrique Capriles and his Democratic Unity coalition (MUD).
Chávez and the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are fighting to build socialism and extend solidarity to others in struggle worldwide. Capriles had hoped to return the wealthy classes — national and foreign — to their former unchallenged status by reversing the social and economic gains of the vast majority of Venezuelans.
Since Hugo Chávez’s first election in 1998, he has led a pro-socialist revolutionary process that has made remarkable gains for the majority of Venezuelans.
Massive support could be seen in a huge rally two days prior to election day, on Friday, Oct. 5, with 3 million people dressed in bright red, who packed seven main avenues of the capital.
Before Chávez’s presidency, Venezuela — with one of the highest oil and natural gas reserves in the world — suffered from deep poverty affecting at least 66% of the population. Despite enormous natural and industrial wealth, the two dominant capitalist parties, Copei and Acción Democrática, ran the government to benefit both the Venezuelan elite and U.S. and British oil companies.
In 1989, then-president Carlos Andrés Pérez ordered the National Guard and army to repress a mass uprising against sudden fuel and food price hikes, massacring up to 3,000 people in an attack known as “the Caracazo.” Washington did not condemn this massacre by Pérez, nor criticize its “democratic ally” for human rights abuses.
Three years later, when Hugo Chávez — a young military officer — organized a military attack against Pérez, he became nationally famous. His daring action won the hearts of the most oppressed, and propelled him to the presidency in 1998.
The vote percentage for Chávez was 56.2% in 1998, 59.76% in 2000, and 63% when he was re-elected in 2006. After a nationwide referendum in February 2009, the two-term limit for president was eliminated.
Speaking in the evening before a gigantic multitude of supporters who gathered at the Miraflores presidential palace after the official vote call the evening of Oct. 7, Chávez declared: “We dedicate this victory to the women, the students, the workers, the peasants, the Indigenous peoples of our land, to the intellectuals … it is everyone’s victory.
“The next period of government won’t begin January 10 [inauguration day], the new cycle of the Bolivarian government begins today. We have to do things better, more efficiently, to meet the needs of the people. I repeat, I will be a better President each day.”
He twice made a call to the opposition to join in “national unity and to work for national peace … to not lend themselves to the destabilizing maneuvers that some were carrying out.…”
To roaring cheers, Chávez said, “This is the best Venezuela we have had in 200 years. Never before did we have a Venezuela that we have today from a moral, social, political economic and cultural point of view.”
Messages of congratulations were sent immediately by presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Cristina Fernández of Argentina, and Raúl Castro of Cuba, as soon as the official tally came in.
These leaders acknowledge the enormous importance for the whole continent. Morales said, “It is not only the triumph of the Venezuelan people, it is the triumph of the countries of ALBA and Latin America.”
Castro said, “On behalf of the government and people of Cuba, I congratulate you for this historic triumph, which shows the strength of the Bolivarian Revolution and its unquestionable popular support. … I reiterate to you our unbreakable solidarity and support.”
But more important than Chávez’s percentage of votes is the radical economic and social changes that have come about under what his supporters call the “Bolivarian Revolution.” The socialist "Bolivarian" political movement is named after the Venezuelan revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar, who was instrumental in freeing much of Latin America from Spanish rule in the early 19th century.
The unique development of Venezuela’s new society began with the inspiration that Chávez imparted, as he called for an end to the old COPEI-Acción Democrática alliance that only made the rich richer and the poor poorer.
But U.S. imperialism may have had its way in trying to crush the Bolivarian Revolution, if it were not for the Venezuelan masses and Cuba’s support. The April 2002 fascist coup against Chávez was hatched and financed in Washington. But hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets, surrounded the Presidential Palace and backed military forces loyal to Chávez, releasing the president after three days in captivity.
The next blow was the oil sabotage by pro-imperialist management. Heroic efforts restored Venezuela’s oil industry.
Starting in April 2003 Cuba began sending what is now more than 15,000 medical doctors to provide free healthcare to the Venezuelan people. Thousands of teachers were also sent, and soon made Venezuela the second country in the continent to wipe out illiteracy.
This is not the Latin America of yesterday, when U.S. imperialism was able to expel Cuba from the Organization of American States, invade the Dominican Republic in 1965, overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973, defeat the Nicaraguan Revolution and terrorize the people of El Salvador.
Now there is a powerful anti-imperialist alliance of countries that have supported each other’s social development, sharing resources and building solidarity....
— From Liberation News 10-08-12. Gloria LaRiva is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
4. THE OVERWROUGHT EMPIRE
By Tom Engelhardt
Americans lived in a “victory culture” for much of the twentieth century. You could say that we experienced an almost 75-year stretch of triumphalism — think of it as the real “American Century” — from World War I to the end of the Cold War, with time off for a destructive stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam too shocking to absorb or shake off.
When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, it all seemed so obvious. Fate had clearly dealt Washington a royal flush. It was victory with a capital V. The United States was, after all, the last standing superpower, after centuries of unceasing great power rivalries on the planet. It had a military beyond compare and no enemy, hardly a “rogue state,” on the horizon. It was almost unnerving, such clear sailing into a dominant future, but a moment for the ages nonetheless. Within a decade, pundits in Washington were hailing us as “the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”
And here’s the odd thing: in a sense, little has changed since then and yet everything seems different. Think of it as the American imperial paradox: everywhere there are now “threats” against our well-being which seem to demand action and yet nowhere are there commensurate enemies to go with them. Everywhere the U.S. military still reigns supreme by almost any measure you might care to apply; and yet — in case the paradox has escaped you — nowhere can it achieve its goals, however modest.
At one level, the American situation should simply take your breath away. Never before in modern history had there been an arms race of only one or a great power confrontation of only one. And at least in military terms, just as the neoconservatives imagined in those early years of the twenty-first century, the United States remains the “sole superpower” or even “hyperpower” of planet Earth.
And yet the more dominant the U.S. military becomes in its ability to destroy and the more its forces are spread across the globe, the more the defeats and semi-defeats pile up, the more the missteps and mistakes grow, the more the strains show, the more the suicides rise, the more the nation’s treasure disappears down a black hole — and in response to all of this, the more moves the Pentagon makes.
A great power without a significant enemy? You might have to go back to the Roman Empire at its height or some Chinese dynasty in full flower to find anything like it. And yet Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is reportedly a shadow of its former self. The great regional threats of the moment, North Korea and Iran, are regimes held together by baling wire and the suffering of their populaces. The only incipient great power rival on the planet, China, has just launched its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian throwaway from the 1990s on whose deck the country has no planes capable of landing.
The U.S. has 1,000 or more bases around the world; other countries, a handful. The U.S. spends as much on its military as the next 14 powers (mostly allies) combined. In fact, it’s investing an estimated $1.45 trillion to produce and operate a single future aircraft, the F-35 — more than any country, the U.S. included, now spends on its national defense annually.
The U.S. military is singular in other ways, too. It alone has divided the globe — the complete world — into six “commands.” With (lest anything be left out) an added command, Stratcom, for the heavens and another, recently established, for the only space not previously occupied, cyberspace, where we’re already unofficially “at war.” No other country on the planet thinks of itself in faintly comparable military terms.
When its high command plans for its future “needs,” thanks to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, they repair (don’t say “retreat”) to a military base south of the capital where they argue out their future and war-game various possible crises while striding across a map of the world larger than a basketball court. What other military would come up with such a method?
The president now has at his command not one, but two private armies. The first is the CIA, which in recent years has been heavily militarized, is overseen by a former four-star general (who calls the job “living the dream”), and is running its own private assassination campaigns and drone air wars throughout the Greater Middle East. The second is an expanding elite, the Joint Special Operations Command, cocooned inside the U.S. military, members of whom are now deployed to hot spots around the globe.
The U.S. Navy, with its 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carrier task forces, is dominant on the global waves in a way that only the British Navy might once have been; and the U.S. Air Force controls the global skies in much of the world in a totally uncontested fashion. (Despite numerous wars and conflicts, the last American plane possibly downed in aerial combat was in the first Gulf War in 1991.) Across much of the global south, there is no sovereign space Washington’s drones can’t penetrate to kill those judged by the White House to be threats.
In sum, the U.S. is now the sole planetary Top Gun in a way that empire-builders once undoubtedly fantasized about, but that none from Genghis Khan on have ever achieved: alone and essentially uncontested on the planet. In fact, by every measure (except success), the likes of it has never been seen.
By all the usual measuring sticks, the U.S. should be supreme in a historically unprecedented way. And yet it couldn’t be more obvious that it’s not, that despite all the bases, elite forces, private armies, drones, aircraft carriers, wars, conflicts, strikes, interventions, and clandestine operations, despite a labyrinthine intelligence bureaucracy that never seems to stop growing and into which we pour a minimum of $80 billion a year, nothing seems to work out in an imperially satisfying way. It couldn’t be more obvious that this is not a glorious dream, but some kind of ever-expanding imperial nightmare.
This should, of course, have been self-evident since at least early 2004, less than a year after the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq, when the roadside bombs started to explode and the suicide bombings to mount, while the comparisons of the United States to Rome and of a prospective Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East to the Pax Romana vanished like a morning mist on a blazing day. Still, the wars against relatively small, ill-armed sets of insurgents dragged toward their dismally predictable ends. (It says the world that, after almost 11 years of war, the 2,000th U.S. military death in Afghanistan occurred at the hands of an Afghan “ally” in an “insider attack.”) In those years, Washington continued to be regularly blindsided by the unintended consequences of its military moves. Surprises — none pleasant — became the order of the day and victories proved vanishingly rare.
One thing seems obvious: a superpower military with unparalleled capabilities for one-way destruction no longer has the more basic ability to impose its will anywhere on the planet. Quite the opposite, U.S. military power has been remarkably discredited globally by the most pitiful of forces. From Pakistan to Honduras, just about anywhere it goes in the old colonial or neocolonial world, in those regions known in the contested Cold War era as the Third World, resistance of one unexpected sort or another arises and failure ensues in some often long-drawn-out and spectacular fashion.
Given the lack of enemies — a few thousand jihadis, a small set of minority insurgencies, a couple of feeble regional powers — why this is so, what exactly the force is that prevents Washington’s success, remains mysterious. Certainly, it’s in some way related to the more than half-century of decolonization movements, rebellions, and insurgencies that were a feature of the previous century.
It also has something to do with the way economic heft has spread beyond the U.S., Europe, and Japan — with the rise of the “tigers” in Asia, the explosion of the Chinese and Indian economies, the advances of Brazil and Turkey, and the movement of the planet toward some kind of genuine economic multipolarity. It may also have something to do with the end of the Cold War, which put an end as well to several centuries of imperial or great power competition and left the sole “victor,” it now seems clear, heading toward the exits wreathed in self-congratulation.
Explain it as you will, it’s as if the planet itself, or humanity, had somehow been inoculated against the imposition of imperial power, as if it now rejected it whenever and wherever applied. In the previous century, it took a half-nation, North Korea, backed by Russian supplies and Chinese troops to fight the U.S. to a draw, or a popular insurgent movement backed by a local power, North Vietnam, backed in turn by the Soviet Union and China to defeat American power. Now, small-scale minority insurgencies, largely using roadside bombs and suicide bombers, are fighting American power to a draw (or worse) with no great power behind them at all....
— for more of this article, go to http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175602/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_disaster_on_autopilot/
— Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt. This article originally appeared October 8, 2012 at TomDispatch.com.
5. ROMNEY'S VAGUE FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH
By John Glaser
Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney gave what was supposed to be a major speech on foreign policy Oct. 8, arguing that President Obama has not shown “leadership” and that “nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East. ”
But Romney’s speech was persistently vague, relying on rhetoric and mostly shying away from specific policy prescriptions. On each issue, he either hinted at the need for more belligerence or argued for precisely the same policies the Obama administration has carried out, while trying to present his identical take as fundamentally different.
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States,” Romney said, in an example of his commitment to keeping the speech as nebulous and unspecific as possible. “I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”
Romney opened by criticizing the Obama administration for its handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate building in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans died. He claimed the attack is indicative of al-Qaeda’s rise since Obama took office.
Romney didn’t mention the fact that Obama’s interventionist foreign policy — including imposing regime change in Libya, bombing Yemen and Pakistan with drones on a weekly basis, surging in Afghanistan, and continuing to prop up dictatorships across the region — is what is driving al-Qaeda’s growth. Instead, Romney’s remedy is a vague prescription of American “power,” as if it has been dormant for the last four years.
Romney tried to present Obama as passive and weak towards an evil and aggressive Iran heading towards nuclear weapons, but he failed to express a policy prescription that differed from Obama’s.
“I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” he said. “I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region-and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.”
Indeed, President Obama has said and done all of these things. He has vowed to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, he has imposed harsh economic sanctions of unprecedented severity, and he has built up ground and naval forces in the Gulf.
Romney did hint that he would give more help to domestic dissident groups in Iran who want to overthrow the regime. “When millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of 2009,” he said, “when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world… the American President was silent.”
The argument that the U.S. should have used the protests in 2009 as an opportunity to impose regime change in Iran is a tired trope at this point. The protesters were not asking for regime change or for international intervention, and any move to use the events to make war against Tehran would have ended in catastrophe.
On Syria, again, Romney tried to present himself as markedly different from the Obama administration, while simply reiterating the administration’s exact policies.
“In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets,” he said. This is currently the Obama administration’s policy, as it sends non-lethal aid to the rebels and facilitates the delivery of weapons from US allies in the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Romney promised to work towards a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though he has previously stated otherwise.
“I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel,” he said. “On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations.”
But in a leaked video, recorded surreptitiously, Romney told a private party a few months ago that he had problems with a Palestinian state “living side by side” with Israel. He objected to the so-called two state solution, because of “thorny questions” about Israeli security in an independent West Bank.
Even more dramatically contradictory, Romney said in that video that he would specifically avoid attempting to solve the long-standing dispute. He said he would “move things along” as best he could, while recognizing that “this is going to remain an unsolved problem” that we can “live with.”
— From Antiwar.com, 10-08-12
— See Oct. 4 newsletter below for "Obama & Romney on Foreign/Military Policy."