How exactly would that leverage be applied? Would a Romney administration withdraw aid to the Karzai government if it fails to enact the reforms Romney requires? Would US troops remain or withdraw? An assault on the US embassy in Kabul and various other anti-US attacks have been traced back to elements of the Pakistani government. Should the US sever its relationship with Pakistan and restore the pre-9/11 sanctions? Should it support the civilian leadership against the military, or vice versa?
IRAQ: By any measure, Iraq is problematic. It remains in a state of low-scale civil war, Iranian influence is prevalent, and Al Qaeda is restoring its foothold. Romney’s white paper promises to “use the broad array of our foreign-policy tools—diplomatic, economic, and military—to establish a lasting relationship with Iraq.” How does that change the current policy? What will be the long-term US military involvement? What of Iran’s influence over the Shiite government now in charge (a by-product of the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein)?
PALESTINE: While Romney can be forgiven for feeling that any hope of compromise on the Israel-Palestine issue is, as he is heard saying in a controversial video, “just wistful [sic] thinking,” he also added that “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world.” If that is the case, it is worth asking Romney, Doesn’t that conflict with his assertion that America must shape events in the region?
ISRAEL: And finally, when Romney says in that Journal op-ed that there should be “no daylight” between the US and Israel, which Israel is he talking about? Prime Minister Netanyahu? Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has been distancing himself from Netanyahu? The former chiefs of the Israeli Defense Forces, the Shin Bet internal security forces, and the Mossad spy agency, who say Netanyahu’s policy on Iran could be catastrophic for Israel?
Romney argues that the US needs a “coherent strategy” on the Middle East. It is the job of the media to get beyond the generalities and tease out the details.
Correction: Mitt Romney’s Oct. 8 foreign policy speech was given at the Virginia Military Institute, which we incorrectly called Virginia Military Academy in our first reference to it in this story. CJR regrets the error.