via Lobe Log

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined how the US can implement “A New Course for the Middle East”. The article was lacking in terms of substantive policy planning. Its most detailed commentary is reserved for US-Israel relations, but even then it does little more than advance the campaign’s talking points:

The same incomprehension afflicts the president’s policy toward Israel. The president began his term with the explicit policy of creating “daylight” between our two countries. He recently downgraded Israel from being our “closest ally” in the Middle East to being only “one of our closest allies.” It’s a diplomatic message that will be received clearly by Israel and its adversaries alike. He dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere “noise” that he prefers to “block out.” And at a time when Israel needs America to stand with it, he declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

Aaron David Miller, who has been critical of the “daylight” between Obama and Netanyahu, wrote in Foreign Policy that the op-ed offers nothing to show what Romney would do differently from Obama if elected with Iran or other issues in the region:

Even by the standards of political silly season and in the heat of battle weeks before an election — when exaggeration, obfuscation, and willful distortion become the orders of the day — this article sets a new bar for its vacuity, aimlessness and lack of coherence. There’s nothing “new” in it, and it provides no “course for the Middle East.” If anything, it takes us back to the kind of muscular nonsense and sloganeering that has wreaked havoc on our credibility in recent years.