July 30th, 2012

Romney’s foreign travels/travails: telling the truth

So, does the highlighted statement [emphasis mine] disqualify Romney for the presidency?:

So far the roughest moment on the Republican presidential candidate’s road trip came after he said that some things about the Olympics were “disconcerting.” That angered Brits, including the mayor of London.

“You know, I was referring to press reports before I even got to London that suggested that the organizing committee was having some challenges,” said Romney.

“I was there for two days,” he added. “The games were carried out without a hitch. So, as far as I’m able to tell, despite the challenges as any organizing committee faces, they were able to organize games that have been so far so good, picture perfect.”

“I tend to tell people what I actually believe,” said Romney when asked if he would want to change his words if he could go back and answer the questions again.

And now of course, since Romney is in Israel, a country more predisposed to like him, the left is all over some remarks he made in a fundraiser there that are “RACIST!!” and have outraged the perpetually-outraged Palestinians:

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that “culture makes all the difference.”

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the “hand of providence.” He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

Palestinian reaction was swift and pointed.

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Yes, of course; it’s all the Israelis’ fault. Everybody knows how well the Arab/Muslim inhabitants of Palestine (they didn’t call themselves Palestinians at the time) were doing before* the increase in Jewish emigration to the area beginning in the latter part of the 19th century and continuing on into the 20th. Everyone knows about the thriving Arab economies in lands that are not “occupied” by Jews, and that even if it weren’t for their oil they’d still be the economic miracle stories of the world. And of course everybody knows that the Palestinians are coveted residents of the various Arab countries that have vied for their presence for many decades because of their economic prowess in whatever country they happen to enter. Jordan and Lebanon in particular have been happy to welcome the Palestinians, whom they consider quite an asset, and those countries have been eager to have even more of them back, but so far the Palestinians have cruelly refused to listen to their blandishments.

And have you noticed how “culture” has now become synonymous with “race,” so that speaking negatively of a culture—even if what is said is true (or perhaps especially if what is said is true)—becomes defined as racist, as though whatever a culture might be is embedded in the genes of its people?

Now I understand that diplomacy requires that a leader not always say what he/she really thinks, or even close to it. But at this point, diplomacy has been an utter failure with the Palestinians, who tend to look on any concessions as evidence of a weakness that can be exploited. But despite this history, and despite the fact that the other Arab/Muslim countries of the Middle East hate, fear, and use them, the Palestinians remain the darlings of the left in the west, which believes their tender sensibilities must always be assuaged.

Here’s some context for Romney’s remarks:

As he has at home, Romney in Jerusalem cited a book titled, “Guns, Germs and Steel,” that suggests the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there.

“And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here,” Romney said, before citing another book, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by former Harvard professor David Landes.

This book, Romney said in Jerusalem, concludes that “if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.”

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.

Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference in economic disparity between countries is so great.

But shhh, these things cannot be mentioned. Nor can we whisper of incidents such as this one. It would spoil the narrative:

Some 200 dunams of greenhouse space in the Gaza Strip were ransacked recently by dozens of armed Palestinians and residents of Khan Yunis.

International donors had purchased the greenhouses from evacuated Gush Katif settlers for the benefit of the Palestinians.

According to Palestinian and international sources involved in running the greenhouses, the armed robbers belonged to two militias, the Assistance Committees and the Popular Army, affiliated with former Palestinian ruling party Fatah. These militias had been hired by the Palestinian Authority to guard both the ruins of the former settlements and the greenhouses, which were all under cultivation. But instead of guarding the greenhouses, the guards decided to rob them.

In general, the Palestinians and their camp-followers have been very happy with President Obama’s attitude towards the region, and there is no question that, even had Romney mouthed a few more platitudes in Israel to placate them, it would not have made a particle of difference.

[NOTE: *See this for more information about the earlier history of the region regarding economics and culture. Here’s an excerpt:

The Report of the 1937 Palestine Royal Commission quotes what it believed to be a truthful and unbiased description of the Maritime Plain as it existed in 1913:

“The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts…no orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached [the Jewish village of] Yabna [Yavne]….Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen….The ploughs used were of wood….The yields were very poor….The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist….The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert. . . . The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.”(Cmd. 5479 p. 233)

The Report also drew on contemporary descriptions of the economic situation in Palestine, written in the 1830s and supplied to the Commission by Lewis French, the British Director of Development:

“We found it inhabited by fellahin who lived in mud hovels and suffered severely from the prevalent malaria…. Large areas…were uncultivated… The fellahin, if not themselves cattle thieves, were always ready to harbour these and other criminals. The individual plots…changed hands annually. There was little public security, and the fellahin’s lot was an alternation of pillage and blackmail by their neighbours, the Bedouin.” (Cmd. 5479 pp. 259-260)]

[ADDENDUM: Paul Mirengoff of Powerline says that offending Palestinians is step in the right direction:

Palestinian leaders may not be able to handle the truth, but that shouldn’t deter our leaders from expressing it. For too long, they have been deterred, and that includes Republican leaders.]

31 Responses to “Romney’s foreign travels/travails: telling the truth”

  1. Gringo Says:

    Neo, the Sarc-o-meter is rated high today!

    Based on our experience in foreign policy, I would venture that Palestinians and Pakistanis are the two groups that would have the highest negative ratings in the US.

    Recall that Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn were the co-authors of Prairie Fire, which was dedicated to “political prisoners” – including Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert Kennedy. [Palestinian Christian]

    Not to mention Palestinian support of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

  2. Sam L. Says:

    ‘Tis easier to destroy than build up. Easier to steal than makegrow for oneself. Easier to get people to hate someone else than face their own failings.

    PLO and Hamas, both full of kleptocrats. And inspirers of hate.

  3. Curtis Says:


  4. Rob Says:

    I never take issue with Romney’s words because I never have a clue whether they bear any interesting relation to his actual beliefs. However, looking at his trip overseas from a very narrowly political point of view, it clearly did not do him any good. And I seem to recall some clever person on this blog saying that it was a huge mistake to send him over there. Can’t remember who that was now…hmmmm.

  5. Curtis Says:

    Romney is not the tea party candidate but neither is he the RINO candidate. Romney may be the rarest political bird in the sky: a truthful candidate. I keep liking him more and more.

    His remarks necessarily bring accusation from the usual suspects. It is good to see them writhe and rattle like the snakes they are. Romney has stepped on their heads. Who else dare take on the Muslims and their co-horts, the illberals? If there is any action or speech that could convince a non-liking Romney conservative that Romney is genuine, this is it.

    Money, influence and power will now be turned against Romney with even greater intensity.But did he let that stop him? Did he not speak from the heart about a Nation and a People whose survival and prosperity is a test about the kind of person you are?

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    Great post, Neo.
    Ignore him.
    Although he will probably vote for Baraq several times this Nov.

  7. n.n Says:

    The “Palestinians” are suffering from liberty deprivation. For over 1000 years they occupied the land, only to achieve a static existence. Their totalitarian ideology only serves to reinforce the negative conditions their leaders have imposed upon them.

    While the people revel in their mediocrity, their leaders enjoy a disproportionate quality of life at their expense. This state of affairs has persisted for so long, that it is likely people have forgotten their individual dignity. It’s notable that the same problem underlies the regressive civilizations of Africa, while older, less “civilized” tribes are fundamentally more productive.

    Once again, Romney is right in principle and practice. Hopefully, Americans realize a better balance between individual and collective dignity. Actually, hopefully they recognize their individual dignity, because at this time their primary concern is dreams of instant gratification without perceived consequences. To the extent that even progressive involuntary exploitation and slavery can be discussed in the same breath and the latter rejected and the former embraced with emotional zeal. Then, of course, the existential problem which follows from an engagement and even normalization of behaviors which constitute evolutionary dysfunction, the consequences of which can be observed and measured after just a single, succeeding generation.

    We need a leader who will speak plainly; who will enforce an equal rule of law; who will not denigrate individual dignity; who will not pander to individuals who desire instant gratification; and who will not embrace policies which constitute evolutionary dysfunction. Obama is clearly incapable or unwilling to realize these goals, while Romney has yet to prove his mettle and confirm his principles.

    We’ll see who’s the better man; but, it will clearly not be learned from “journalists” serving special, partisan interests. It doesn’t help the “Palestinians” and it will certainly not help Americans.

    So, we wait, read partisan attacks in the guise of journalistic reporting, and hope that the dream of instant gratification that people have fielded will be rejected along with other seemingly “inconsequential” behaviors.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Looking at Romney’s trip from a narrowly political point of view (as Rob, who is trollish but not exactly a troll, has advised), I see that it has so far served the following purposes:

    (1) let both Israel and the Palestinians know how he would differ from Obama

    (2) appeal to (and peel off) at least some Jewish voters and donors who are unhappy with Obama’s stance on Israel

    (3) appeal to evangelicals, whose support he will most likely need to have the best chance of winning in November

    And the only people he’s alienated are those who would never have voted for him in the first place.

  9. rachel Says:

    neo and Curtis @6:05pm, I agree.

    Cf. the NAACP speech for another notable example of Romney telling people what he actually believes. Which, as Curtis says, brings out predictable accusations from the usual suspects.

  10. NeoConScum Says:

    Best description of the Palestinian ‘mindset’:


    Thank you, Dr.Fouad Ajami.

  11. Rob Says:

    So disappointing. A few short months ago so many conservatives couldn’t stand Romney. Yet now that he’s the nominee, criticizing him is enough to make one an Obama supporter? Really? Even though my complaint about Romney has always been that he is actually much, MUCH closer to Obama than any of you apparently suspect?

    We’ve reached the point at which we put “the party” ahead of what “the party” is supposed to stand for. I said I’d vote for Romney and I will, but I do harbor the fear that a Romney presidency could do serious long term damage to….wait, let me choose my words carefully, since I’m not supposed to use words like “conservative ideals”….to the goals that we, as conservatives, claim to support. It might do more long term damage than another four years of Obama.

    But whatever. I’ll play along. I’ll vote for the guy our current Republican leaders tell me I’m supposed to vote for. But just you wait. After Romney has been in the White House for a year and has metamorphosed into President Obomney, I’ll still be here, remembering this discussion even though it will have mysteriously passed from everyone else’s memory.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Rob: please note that I don’t say that you are an Obama supporter. I actually think you are most likely exactly what you say you are—someone on the right who really really REALLY doesn’t like Romney as a candidate. There are many such people. Some have come over to liking him more, some have not.

    When I say you are “troll-like” but not a troll, that’s what I mean. I don’t think you’re here just to annoy. But you sound a single repetitive, negative, and unhelpful note: “Romney bad!”—and as I pointed out, in this case you are wrong about the politics of it. I believe your dislike (and/or hatred) of Romney blinds you to the reality here.

  13. Curtis Says:


  14. SteveH Says:

    Lefties are missing rightwingers distaste for Romney. But hey, even a tv dinner looks like fine cuisine next to a shit sandwich.

  15. Gringo Says:

    I heard a snippet on the radio which is of interest. Netanyahu has in effect come out for Romney. Some Israelis point out that it is better for Israel to remain neutral in US elections, because Israel has to deal with administrations of either party. This is a good point.

    Netanyahu’s rejoinder would probably be that Obama had already shown himself to be anything but neutral, and rather negative toward Netanyahu.

  16. foxmarks Says:

    I wonder if Romney would be substantively different than Obama (or Bush)? Will any of them quit funding Israel’s enemies?

    My first reaction to the Palestinian stuff is the whole things shows how badly conservatives have already lost hold of the narrative. I say “Palestinian” is a made-up and fraudulent identity. But, most people have heard it so often that it has become even more real and significant than its inventors hoped for.

  17. Romney: “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.” UPDATED | Fausta's Blog Says:

    […] UPDATE: Romney’s foreign travels/travails: telling the truth […]

  18. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Romney’s point about culture making the difference in an economy was merely speaking the truth as he sees it. I happen to see it that way as well. The Muslim doctrine of “inshallah” (Allah willing) does not motivate Muslims to try to better their lot. Just the opposite. IMO, it’s a valid point to bring into the discussion.

    What irritates me is that we have to keep pointing out the modern examples of how culture or various isms (socialism, communism, fascism) tend to create stagnation/decline in an economy. It is to weep.

  19. Grizzly Says:

    I keep seeing headlines talking about Romney’s supposed “gaffes” during his international trip, yet I have yet to read an actual quote of an actual gaffe.

    While Romney was not my first choice as challenger to Obama, he certainly has my vote. And I am pleasantly surprised daily to hear reports that Romney is actually displaying some backbone (read honesty, if you like) during the campaign. I am enjoying this much more than the disgrace that was the McCain campaign in 2008.

  20. Pat Says:

    I was not big on Romney but his Israel speech impressed me. He was not afraid to speak the truth about the differences that culture make and he praised Israel in that context. He also took a very strong line on Iran. He’s going to be a much stronger candidate than McCain. Feeling better already.

  21. Curtis Says:

    ‘Tis easier to destroy than build up. Easier to steal than makegrow for oneself. Easier to get people to hate someone else than face their own failings.

    That sums up Obama and the machine.

    What does Romney have to do to generate excitement?

    1) Take the fight to Obama. He’s done that.

    2) Establish and articulate policy. He’s done that.

    3) Raise big money. He’s done that.

    4) Avoid the big mistakes. He’s done that.

    You don’t have to worship the guy. We don’t do that anyway. But you should have the nerve to admit he’s done pretty damn well and start making statements that reflect that if he is doing this well in an area where he is supposedly weak, then how well will he do as our Nation’s Chief Executive?

    Here’ my checklist:

    Get the economy going, turn the national debate towards entitlements, examine how “culture” founds success, protect our borders, return education to the states, reduce federal law and regulations, establish civility, repeal Obamacare, defeat Iran, promote small business, restrain and limit Syrian, Iranian and Palestinain terror, de-politicize the DOJ, fund American space and cyber technology, reverse American energy dependence, create reward for merit, and have love and concern for the impoverished and unrepresented.

    How can the Left hate Romney so much when he has given every clue that he believes in community and sharing and not forgetting the unfortunate. How?

    And when does social netting even come into play? In a socialist economy? No. Not hardly. Only in an economy that produces such wealth that there is an extra amount for charity. Socialist economies direct funds for basic needs as if they were charity. Is that how you want to live? As if your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was a grant from government?

    C’mon thinking people. Wake up. Please.

    And you are. Slowly. Finally. The wind in the sails of the Romney campaign is increasing and finding its way to a New York, a New England, a New America. Make that happen. Become part of the excitement and power that repels and destroys the lies of the Left.

    I’m sorry? How did you claim Romney was nothing more than Obama?


  22. Baklava Says:


    Try this exercise. List the 5 most negative things Obama has done. You can mention Welfare changes, Foreign policy craziness, rewarding General Motors unions versus bond holders and dealerships, whatever you want. THEN please tell us that YOU believe Romney would’ve done those things… Would Romney have appointed whathername to the Supreme Court?

    Then do the same exercise with the positives that Obama has done. I’m sorry. What positives???? He vetoed the Seal attack on Bin Laden 5 times. So there is only one but it was the 4th time that he said “yes”.

  23. Baklava Says:

    BTW, I appreciate WHERE you are coming from.

    But do me a favor and TRY the exercise.

  24. IGotBupkis -- "Faecies Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

    This just in:
    Jew Speaks
    Palestinians outraged.

    Film just in:
    Man says something about Israel
    Palestinians outraged.

    Blogger notes there is wind blowing in Israel.
    Palestinians are outraged.

    Wait, nothing above is news.

    *Never Mind*

  25. Artfldgr Says:

    scissors strategy:
    Two sides pretend to be split but have complimentary patterns, and have a point of collusion towards an end which is unknown to those the scissors are used on.

    They appear apart, but their complimentary ends and choices reveal the connection

  26. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    If Romney said the sky is blue, the MSM would tout it as proof of his ‘far right radicalism’, hate for women and minorities and, complete unsuitability for election to any office.

    Given that, of greater interest and of profound importance is Romney’s articulation of culture as the determinative factor in social and material success for a society.

    Something, which to my knowledge no other politician has done. We now know at least some of what Romney contributes to the discussion.

    Labeling analysis of culture as racism is how the left attempts to prevent discussion of multiculturalism’s fundamental tenet; that all cultures are equal.

    Of course they are not. Chinese and Mexican cultures do not stress hygiene, of increasing importance in an increasingly interconnected world. Black, Middle Eastern and Hispanic cultures do not stress the value of education and even devalue the intellect, guaranteeing their material failure in the ‘information age’. None of the above cultures value the rule of law, or the principles of reason and logic. Nor the societal value that an individual’s behavior should adhere to personal responsibility and accountability.

    All of these are considered Western values, Judeo/Christian values derived from the integration of historic Jewish, Greek and Roman values. While true, logic is not a Greek invention but a discovery made by the ancient Greeks. The operative rules of Logic exist independently of ancient Greece’s embracing of that discovery. So too is that the case with any behavior or realization that brings societal success when embraced.

    Civility is a beneficial value because it reduces conflict and increases cooperation both within a society and in a society’s dealings with other societies.

    Until recognition of and adoption of proven ‘beneficial’ societal values is accepted as evolutionary adaptation… rather than as abandonment of societal identity, societal inequality both materially and as a measure of ‘quality of life’ will not only continue but widen and deepen.

    That will hold true no matter how much the ‘haves’ give to the ‘have nots’.

  27. waltj Says:

    I’ve seen the Palestinian refugee “camps” (actually cinder block buildings, for the most part) in Jordan and on the West Bank up close. To put it plainly, they are sh*tholes. They have been such for over 60 years now, with no effort on the part of the residents to make them more habitable. They’ll tell you their leaders promised them they’ll be going back to their old houses in Haifa and Jaffa any day now. Yeah, right. Contrast that with life in the Jewish ghettos prior to WW2, where there may have been poverty, deprivation, and oppression, but there was also art, education, and a striving for a better life. Romney got it right: culture matters. A lot.

  28. Callmelennie Says:

    Note the several mention of malaria in the historical descriptions. This is crucial to rebutting the notion that Israel somehow stole the lands from the Palestinians. Arabs, having descended from a civilization of nomadic herdsmen, have never been good stewards of the lands they inhabit. In the case of Palestine, they allowed malarial swamps to develop on the poorly drained lands which then made many parts of the area uninhabitable. In a very real sense they abandoned these lands

    Whereupon Jewish Zionists’, with their knowledge of civil engineering and land reclamation, saw an opportunity to purchase these lands cheaply and make them habitable for Jews by draining the swamps. At which point, Jews from Europe arrived in droves to settle in the Holy Land. And one day, Arabs woke up from a 500 year period of torpor to find that Jews were half the population of Palestine. At which point, Arabs responded in the only manner they knew — with homicidal rage

  29. mjazz Says:

    In May of 2004, 34-year-old Tali Hatuel, a social worker who lived in the Gaza Strip, was gunned down on a Gaza highway by Palestinian terrorists along with her four daughters, Hila, 11; Hadar, 9; Roni, 7; and Merav, 2. Tali Hatuel was 8 months pregnant with her first son. After the initial gunfire, the terrorists ran up to the car and shot the passengers –four little girls and a pregnant woman — at point-blank range. The militant Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group, claimed responsibility for the heroic attack in a call to The Associated Press.

  30. waltj Says:

    As I said some years back, possibly on Neo’s blog, the Palestinians who were smart enough and wealthy enough got out a long time ago, some to the Gulf, some to North America, some to Australia and a few other places. A lot of these were Christians, who often had business acumen or were in the professions, and had no particular use for organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Most of those left are the poor, the elderly, and the child-murderers like mjazz described. Unfortunately, this last category is growing.

  31. Sarah Rolph Says:

    Why should one look at Romney’s trip abroad through a “narrowly political” lens?

    How about looking at it as an actual event in real life? That makes it a lot easier to understand.

    President Obama’s foreign policy failure (does he even have one?) is a serious threat to the country and the world.

    Governor Romney is highlighting that very, very clearly.

    Those of us who understand what President Obama did to Poland understand why Lech Walesa’s meeting with Romney is important. Meanwhile NPR is telling its listeners that Romney’s goal in Poland was getting more votes from “ethnic whites.”

    Those of us who understand the gravity of the crisis in the Middle East realize that Governor Romney’s mild yet firm statements in support of Israel are very, very good news. We understand that it’s not just about votes, Jewish, evangelical, or otherwise, but about trying to keep Western Civilization from falling to the barbarians.

    President Obama seems to either identify with the barbarians or think it’s all a game.

    Governor Romney is pointing out with his actions that he understands that foreign policy is a serious part of the presidency.

    Leadership requires a perspective that is larger than politics. Governor Romney is a leader, as well as a politician. In my view, that’s the significance of his actions here.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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