Pawlenty does AIPAC


Is Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty contemplating a 2012 presidential run? He’s stoked speculation by deciding against a third-term run this year — and now he’s made his foreign policy pitch to a roomful of AIPAC activists on the sideline of the group’s annual policy conference.

Here are some excerpts:

On Iran:

The President has said that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. On that, we all agree.  And, we all agree military force is the option of last resort. But we need to do a much better job of raising the costs and lowering the benefits of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

This means increasing political pressure on Ahmadinejad and imposing sanctions that would heighten the pressure.  The US needs to better enforce its existing sanctions against Iran and impose new measures now. It also means the UN Security Council taking action. 

Despite progressively alarming reports from the IAEA, the Council has not imposed new sanctions against Iran in over two years. I find this inexplicable and inexcusable.  The Security Council was created to address threats to international peace and security, but it continues to sleep while Iran continues to enrich.

On the U.S.-Israel relationship:

Together, the US and Israel must be clear not to blur the lines between friend and foe, and we must see our most dangerous enemies as they are — and not as we imagine them to be. Our enemies are tempted by weakness, not strength, and they are glad to exploit utopian visions held by other nations.

The reality is that there are regimes — Burma, Syria, and many others — who do not share our interests or our values. There are tyrants — Chavez, Ahmadinejad — who cannot be reasoned with. There are people-bin Laden, Khalid Sheik Mohammed-whose life’s work is to destroy us. There are also people who will never negotiate in good faith or with good intentions.  But they must still be held to account for their behavior.

Fortunately, there are genuine allies around the world, allies who deserve our support and protection.  Israel, of course, is one of them-and the United States must always stand squarely and indivisibly with Israel.

On the Middle East:

We need to further strengthen a strategy to build Palestinian institutions in the West Bank and cultivate a new, peaceful Palestinian political elite — one that rejects terror. We should ensure that our assistance to the Palestinians immediately ends the teaching of hatred that still goes on every day in Palestinian classrooms and over their airwaves. The U.S. has let that pass for too many years.  We must insist that incitement ends now.

We should also ensure that our assistance cultivates and empowers moderate forces in Palestinian society . . . New leaders who are honest and capable, who appreciate the rule of law, who understand that war against Israel has doomed generations of Palestinians to lives of bitterness, violence, and poverty, and who are more interested in improving Palestinians’ lives than eliminating Israel.

These potential new leaders are Israel’s best hope for honest, earnest negotiators.  Peace is possible . . . but only with the right partners

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