Gingrich Campaign Press Release - Newt 2012 Responds to Pentagon Secretary Panetta on Israel
In his speech at Brookings, Secretary Panetta underlined three pillars of U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and argued that each contributes to the "safety and prosperity" of the Israeli people. These pillars include: an "unshakeable commitment to Israeli security"; a "broader commitment to regional stability"; and the Obama administration's "determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." And yet, on each of these fronts, the policy of the White House is actively and materially harming Israel.
UNDERMINING ISRAELI SECURITY
Secretary Panetta argues that cooperation between Israel and the United States is now at "unprecedented levels." Indeed, the Obama administration has significantly upgraded the relationship on a number of fronts, including missile defense, counterterrorism coordination and military supply. At the same time, however, its political priorities vis-à-vis Israel have put the Jewish state in greater danger. To wit:
- The White House has pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions in its dealings with the Palestinians, without corresponding calls for greater reform, accountability and moderation from the Palestinian Authority.
- It has pressured Israel to, in Panetta's own words, "get to the damn table" with troublesome regional states such as Turkey and Egypt, without corresponding pressure on the governments in Ankara and Cairo to moderate their policies toward Israel.
- It has unacceptably interfered in internal Israeli politics on a range of issues (from settlement construction to domestic legislation), challenging Israeli sovereignty in the process.
PROMOTING DANGEROUS REGIONAL DYNAMICS
Secretary Panetta maintains that the U.S. is committed to "security and stability" in the Middle East. Yet,
- The White House has reached out to Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in a way that has empowered those forces politically and undermined secular and moderate political alternatives.
- It has failed to promote real political reforms and good governance in regional regimes currently weathering the "Arab Spring."
- It has announced an accelerated withdrawal from Iraq against the advice of military experts and without making sure that foreign actors like Iran cannot exploit the resulting political vacuum there.
- It has announced a withdrawal from Afghanistan in the near future, and attempted to broker understandings with the radical Taliban movement to return to power.
- It has failed to act decisively against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, despite the threat that it poses to Israel and notwithstanding the fact that a collapse of the Syrian regime would greatly weaken its most important strategic partners, the Iranian regime and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
- It has consistently failed to pressure the government of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for greater accountability, moderation and reform, even as it has pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A PROVOCATIVELY WEAK IRAN POLICY
Secretary Panetta maintains that the Obama administration's "deliberate and focused" approach to economic and diplomatic pressure against Iran is working. Yet,
- The White House has sanctioned less than a dozen firms under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) since signing it into law some eighteen months ago.
- It has opposed the Iran Threat Reduction Act (ITRA), CISADA's successor, and proposed significant changes that would weaken and dilute the sanctions now being contemplated by Congress.
- It has opposed the idea of sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, despite overwhelming support for the measure in the Senate, and the critical importance of the Central Bank to Iran's oil export-oriented economy.
- It has mothballed Bush-era efforts like the Proliferation Security Initiative, which could help contain the flow of sensitive nuclear materiel to and from Iran.
- Although not rhetorically, it has in practice all but ruled out a military option against Iran, even though the credible use of force is essential to convincing the Iranian regime that the United States is committed to preventing it from acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons
- It has pursued parallel policies (on Russia and arms control) that have had the effect of emboldening and bolstering the resolve of the Iranian regime.
Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Campaign Press Release - Newt 2012 Responds to Pentagon Secretary Panetta on Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/298030