Senior Romney adviser and former Bush spokesman give Obama some Iran-Israel credit


 Two examples of relatively sympathetic views of President Obama’s Iran policy … from Republicans.

1) Michael Hayden, the intel chief in the last Bush administration who is now a senior foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, writes on CNN that Obama has adopted his old boss’s policy of preemption — and suggests he has the gumption to make the decision:

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta probably gave the clearest administration statement when he said that if "we get intelligence that they’re proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it."

That, combined with the president’s repeated statements that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is "unacceptable," surprisingly aligns this administration with the George W. Bush administration’s doctrine of pre-emption. That doctrine famously described it as a duty to "anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage."

Combining "unacceptable" with "whatever steps are necessary" seems to put Iran’s possession of a weapon — or, more accurately, an Iranian decision to pursue a weapon — in that doctrine’s category of "hostile acts by our adversaries."


The president showed that he could act in the face of ambiguity when he launched the Abbottabad raid to kill Osama bin Laden. This one will be even more difficult.

The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick no likey:

The fact that this is the view of Romney’s adviser has to make you wonder why all the pro-Israel American Jewish policy wonks have been going after every Republican candidate other than Romney with such intensity.

2) A few weeks back, the Republican Jewish Coalition had a call-in for members, with Ari Fleischer. 

The former George W. Bush spokesman was not at all ambivalent or ambiguous: He wants Obama out as of next Jan. 21. Jewish voters, he said were feeling "buyers’ remorse" for a man he depicted as hapless on the economy and cool on Israel.

But, among friends, Fleischer was also unguarded, giving Obama points for sustaining a close defense relationship:


Did President Obama retreat from military commitments to Israel, he did not retreat — he continued the trend, and I praise him for that.

He also said "I credit President Obama for increasing sanctions."

That doesn’t exactly jibe with the narrative among GOP candidates, that Obama was reluctantly dragooned into enhanced sanctions by Congress. But Fleischer’s seen the inside of the executive branch, and is likely familiar with how an adversarial Congress is prone to depict its foreign policy turf wars with the White House as standing firm vs. fecklessness.

Matt Brooks, the RJC director, ran insta-polls while the call was ongoing — at one point, he said, there were over 6,000 callers on — and he asked Fleischer to rank Obama as pro-Israel, neutral or hostile to Israel before he asked the same of the callers.

Fleischer suggested he knew he was going to be in the minority when he said he did not perceive Obama as hostile. "I don’t think he’s hostile," he said. "He would like to be the great man in the middle." He was right about being in the minority: According to the insta-poll, 83 percent of callers perceived Obama as anti-Israel and overtly hostile, as opposed to 13 percent who saw him as neutral and 4 percent who saw him as a strong committed supporter of Israel.

Fleischer was candid about Romney’s struggle to capture the conservative base …

There’s a lot of conservative angst about Mitt Romney, I think the changes of positions that he had on abortion and gay rights sent a signal to a lot of conservatives that he might change his position on other issues — and that’s led to a lot of conservative decay. That also led to the searching that created an opening that came and went for Michele Bachman, for Rick Perry, for Newt Gingrich, for Herman Cain — and now for Rick Santorum.

…and about why Santorum doesn’t play well for Jews, particularly on social issues:

I only wish that Rick Santorum had gotten into those issues with a more thoughtful, soft-spoken, inclusive commentary as opposed to what I thought his commentary was was condemnatory and questioning birth control and issues that make a lot of people to say, ‘why is he talking about it, and talking about it in that manner?’

Overall, he said, he wished Republicans wouldn’t cede social justice issues to Democrats: "Social justice is an issue I wish Republicans would talk about more," he said.

Recommended from JTA