Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Romney's Non-War on Islam

Juan Cole calls attention to this quote which he suggests shows Mitt Romney advocated a war against all Muslims in 2007:
"We'll move everything to get him. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person -- Osama bin Laden -- because after we get him, there's going to be another and another.

"This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate.

"They ultimately want to bring down the United States of America.

"This is a global effort we're going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It's more than Osama bin Laden.

"But he is going to pay, and he will die."

Maybe it's just me, but I've actually never seen this as an assertion that Romney wanted to fight all of the groups listed. In the debate, this was in the context of a general discussion of Middle East policy, including al-Qaeda, Iran, and Iraq, and Romney was trying to sound intelligent by dropping a bunch of Middle East references as part of a general point that he was just one element of a comprehensive strategy toward the region. Sunni and Shia, for example, had just come up in the context of Iraqi reconciliation.

This is not to say that Romney hasn't adopted a militaristic foreign policy vision, but this quote simply doesn't do what it is often alleged to do. It probably shows just that Romney did not have enough Middle East policy chops to articulate something more coherent than, "All these things matter."

UPDATE: In this quote, Romney explicitly casts Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Muslim Brotherhood as linked in some sort of "global Jihadist effort." He still isn't saying, however, that they will all be dealt with militarily.



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