Romney wants to Fight Whole Muslim World, not Concentrate on Bin Laden

Mitt Romney said Monday that of course he would have taken out Bin Laden and that ‘even Jimmy Carter would have made that call.’

Since Jimmy Carter ordered a brave and risky but failed military mission into Iran, that was a cheap shot on the part of someone who has never had anything to do with the military. Moreover, Jimmy Carter made peace between Egypt and Israel and played a major role in reducing the number of Africans stricken by the Guinea worm from 3.5 million to 1,100. So Romney, who has mainly been sending our jobs overseas, isn’t good enough to shine Carter’s shoes.

Moreover, Romney is forgetting what he said about Obama when Bin Laden was killed:

“I think the president deserves credit for approving a relatively high-risk entry into the country with helicopters and special operations personnel, Navy SEALs,” Romney said. “That was the thing that proved to be successful.”

So at the time, Romney acknowledged that Obama made the decision, and that it was a high-risk strategy that he approved (advisors such as Joe Biden preferred a missile strike).

Romney was pushing back against the Obama campaign’s use against him of his 2007 statement in which Romney:

“Said the country would be safer by only “a small percentage” and would see “a very insignificant increase in safety” if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,” Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.”

The problem with Politifact’s fact check on Romney here is that it doesn’t understand what Romney meant by the ‘Islamic jihad movement.’ In a 2007 primary debate, Romney explained:

” Romney: We’ll move everything to get him. But I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person — Osama bin Laden — because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another.

This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate.

They ultimately want to bring down the United States of America.

This is a global effort we’re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It’s more than Osama bin Laden.

But he is going to pay, and he will die.”

Romney is saying that he wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get Bin Laden, but that he would spend billions and have a strategy to fight the Muslim movements he names, or perhaps the whole Muslim world (“Shia and Sunni”). But note that ‘Shia’, followers of the Shiite branch of Islam, reject the Sunni notion of a caliphate (a kind of early Muslim papacy, which no longer even exists), so he is simply incorrect in lumping Shiite Hizbullah with the Sunni groups. And, it also isn’t true that Hamas (a Sunni national liberation movement focused on Palestine) or the Muslim Brotherhood (focused on national politics in Egypt and Syria) are dedicated to a caliphate. Rather, their energies are devoted to national politics in each state, and they don’t have a common leadership across nation-states. Romney incorrectly sees Muslim fundamentalism as all one thing, as though in Christianity you lumped Mormons, Evangelicals, ultramontane Catholics, and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army all together and accused them of working jointly for global political rule by the Pope.

Romney is a scary conspiracy theorist when it comes to the Muslim world, and his discourse in this regard is eerily similar to that of European far-right figures such as Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer.

The truth is very different. As it now stands, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has formally renounced the idea of making Lebanon an ‘Islamic Republic,’ and noted that he was young and inexperienced when he once talked like that over a decade ago. Hizbullah, representing Lebanon’s Shiites, has members of parliament and cabinet positions and backs the current Miqati government, so it is part of the Lebanese political establishment. Is Romney going to declare war on Lebanon?

And, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt now controls the elected parliament of that country. Is Romney going to declare war on Egypt?

Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria is a key actor in the current revolutionary movement in that country. Does Romney prefer leaving the secular Baath party of dictator Bashar al-Assad in power in Damascus? But no:

” Scott Pelley: Governor Romney– Governor Romney, if I may ask you a 30 second follow-up to that. Is it time for the Assad dictatorship to end? Would you use mili– tel– military force to do that?

Mitt Romney: Of course it’s time for the Assad dictatorship to end. And we should use covert activity, as Speaker Gingrich has just indicated. Look– the– the reason I disagree with Ron Paul on this is– that you have, in Syria, a nation which is an ally, the only Arab ally, of Iran. It is arming Hezbollah. It represents a– an access– of– of great significance to Iran. And as a result, because of our concern about Iran, and their effort to become the Hageman in the Middle East, it is important for– for us as a nation to stand up and to help those efforts to– to replace A– Assad. And that means helping Turkey and– and– Saudi Arabia, who are putting pressure on him, as well as covert activity of our own.”

So in practice, Romney is allied with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and, get this, Saudi Arabia. In his litany of Muslim fundamentalist movements he wanted to spend billions of dollars to fight (as an alternative to focusing on Bin Laden), Romney pointedly did not mention Wahhabi Islam, the branch predominating in Saudi Arabia, which is substantially to the right of the Muslim Brotherhood!

The old Muslim fundamentalist movements have for over a decade been being drawn into parliamentary, Westminster-style politics. Romney, who seems to recognize this tendency with regard to Turkey, can’t see it in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.

So the real problem with Romney is not that he would not have taken out Bin Laden. It is that he sees the Muslim world as in the grip of a congeries of pan-Islamic Caliphate movements against which he wants to wage a Mormon jihad with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. But in fact almost none of the movements he mentions has anything to do with al-Qaeda or a Caliphate. Romney supported Hosni Mubarak to the hilt and opposed the Arab Spring. He doesn’t understand the youth movements sweeping the Arab world. He lumps all kinds of unrelated, and changing, Muslim movements together with al-Qaeda. He doesn’t even seem to understand that if he works to get rid of the al-Assad regime in Syria, he likely will be bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power there, one of the groups he is sworn to fight as fiercely as he would Bin Laden.

The problem with Romney is that when it comes to the Muslim world, he doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is talking about, and seems intent on alienating 1.5 billion Muslims, a fifth of the world. He wanted to substitute a crazy conspiracy theory for a tactical approach to getting Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership. In this regard, the Obama campaign has correctly nailed him, but they haven’t gone far enough in emphasizing the truly creepy character of his obsession with Muslims in general, far beyond the fringe al-Qaeda element.

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27 Responses

  1. You want CREEPY? How about THIS? “Mitt,” “Mormon,” “Mohammed,” and “Muslim,” ALL START WITH THE LETTER “M!!!!!!” AS DO “MONEY,” AND “MILITARISM,” AND MIC!!!!!!! AND YOU COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON!!!! WHY DOESN’T EVERYBODY SEE??????

    The thing about seemingly cautious, 11-dimensional triangulation is that nobody who votes can begin to understand, or care, about all those careful nuances and esoteric talking points, which really ought to be called “talking dulls…”

    And of course behind the curtain, the Imperializing and financialization go on, and on, and on…

  2. Our nation is $16,000,000,000,000 in debt and counting and Romney is focusing in on tax cuts for the 1% and waging unwinnable proxy wars for Israel that only serves to fan the flames of hatred for this country.

    Sen. Coburn was on Morning Joe pushing his new book entitled The Debt Bomb. He thinks a twenty trillion deficit is about the point when the world starts backing off on funding our debt. His take is that politicians don’t give a damn about this country or it’s military.He point blank said that career politicans only care about getting re-elected and collecting their pensions. We’re doomed.

  3. The Newshour had a report last night that 98% of Lebanese Muslims, presumably including the Hezbollah Shiites, disapproved of Al Qaeda.

  4. Obama blew the aftermath of the Bin Laden assassination.
    It was the perfect time to declare victory and leave.
    Instead he continues a policy of propping up a corrupt and
    unreliable dictator. Karzai is a bad puppet but an excellent con man. (Haven’t we learned anything in
    the last 50 years?)

    Obama still talks in terms of fixing Afghanistan.
    Afghanistan is not ours to fix and we have no idea how
    to fix it anyway. We are just spilling blood and burning

    They talk as if 911 was caused by poverty or bad government
    in Afghanistan. No one even suggests that 911 was caused
    by misguided US foreign policy in the region. Every
    blowback event, every disaster, in the last 50 years
    seems to come as a complete surprise.

  5. I agree,Romney “isn’t good enough to shine Carter’s shoes.” Carter not only made peace between Israel and Egypt, as Juan said, he also normalized relations with the People’s Republic of China, he passed the Panama Canal Treaty, he negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union which helped to stabilize and moderate the nuclear arms race. He also passed 76% of the legislation he sent to Congress, the second highest percentage in American history for a President. Even on the economy, the ratio of job creation to deficit creation was highest under Carter than for any president since the 2nd WW, (lowest, of course under George W Bush, since there was negative job creation in the privat sector during his administration). Though Carter was often accused of being ‘inexperienced’, he probably came into office with as strong of a background as any President in American history. Carter had been a senior Naval officer and was Commander of a submarine. Also, trained as a nuclear engineer, he worked closely with Admiral Hyman Rickover to transform a predominantly diesel powered Navy into a nuclear powered Navy. He had been governor of Georia and was, along with Zbignew Brzezinski, and member of thr Trialateral Commision. Carter should also be remembered for elevating Human Rights to the international agenda.

      • A lot of people had an interest in confusing the rate of inflation with the annual interest rate. According to link to, the inflation rate for 1980 was 13.58%, not 21%. When Carter came into office, there had been a Arab oil boycott, and during his administration, the cost of oil increased 12 fold. It was the tight monetary policies, which included high interest rates, of Carter’s appointee, Paul Volcher, that eventually tamed inflation.

        • I might add that Carter was the last president with the guts to stand up to Israel, unlike Obama. When Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1978, Carter induced an Israeli withdrawl by threatening to cuts of further military support for Israel, and to go to the UN Security Council with a resolution condemining Israel for ints invasion unless israel withdraw, which it did. (See his book, ‘The Blood of Abraham’.)

      • Yeah, that was all Carter’s fault. Right. Nothing to do with long-term stupid behaviors on the part of our Kleptocratic class, right? And inflation is now officially negligible, but tell that to the folks who are “benefiting” from all those trillions of permanent-war dollars by being told to work harder and longer for smaller wages, so they can try to afford Wonder Bread and mac’n’cheese and electricity and gasoline and stuff…

        When Clinton left office, the national debt was on the way to extinction. When Reagan left office, billionaires’ marginal tax rates were 91%. Got a smart remark about that?

        • I can think of no better single index of the health of the economy that the ratio of job creation to deficit creation, which, as I noted above,was highest under Carter than any other presiden since the 2nd WW, and lowest under Bush. I believe economists should focus more on this figure than they do.

  6. It’s still too soon but Carter will go down his history as one of the most under-rated presidents ever. Does anyone recall the faux outrage when he negotiated the handover of the Panama Canal to Torrijos? He was pilloried relentlessly and there was no shortage of gloomy prognostications how this would cripple US foreign policy. Turned out to be nothing of the sort. In fact, it defused what otherwise would have turned into an escalating crisis with Panama.

    Ditto for his work helping to shepherd Camp David through. (a cornerstone agreement that the political hack Amre Mousa is now playing politics with.) Yes, Carter’s earnestness could be grating now and then but he’s unfairly savaged by the rightwing for being weak & incompetent. Those charges are entirely untrue.

  7. My guess? Romney senses that his being a Mormon is (for some Americans) to be an unacceptable outsider and thinks — possibly correctly — that he can repair that flaw by asserting partisanship in a BIG FIGHT against another and larger group of “unacceptable outsiders” whom he evidently thinks of as those BAAAD Muslims.

    Since Americans are as silly and certainly as badly informed as Romney, he may be right to adopt this position — by the measure of electoral prospects.

    Sadly, Obama — needing to maintain support for his wars and to shuffle-off suggestions that he is himself a Muslim — is unlikely to do much necessary re-education of Americans.

  8. This is a great statement by Dr. Cole. Romney is simply a bonehead, even when he tries to throw red meat to his supporters he dumbs down every discussion he’s involved with. How did American politicians get so clueless about the world, it’s history, and the different people and cultures that dominate it? American exceptionalism is mainly exceptionally ignorant.

  9. What you are describing in Romney seems to fit with the research recently highlighted by Chris Mooney on the conservative mind. There is little ability to see shades of gray. It is all black and white and all nuance and subtlety is lost. It is always “you’re either for us or agin us”. It does not help that so many Christiams in the US accept that Islam is and evil and unified force., much like Republicans.

  10. Unfortunately, 99% of voters, and reporters for the corporate media, understand the Muslim world just as crudely as Romney does. He can babble this idiotic nonsense all he wants and it will only benefit him. A politician who addresses Islam with understanding and nuance will just commit self-injury.

    Don’t know what is to be done, just sayin’.

  11. For “Mitt’s” information & many other ignorant people, since 911 with all the negative & bad publicity against Islam, many people became curious to find what Islam is.

    Many non-Muslims read Quran and other books about Islam to have firsthand knowledge about this religion that spans almost half the world from Morocco to Indonesia, about 1.5 Billion strong around the globe.

    Many non-Muslims have converted to Islam since 911 after reading & understanding in the last 10 years than 10 years before the 911, including the USA.

  12. Dear Juan,

    From what I understand, Goldman Sachs is now putting their money on Mitt Romney. This is the Weimar Republik.

    The future of the U.S.: Fascism from above, Occupy from below?

    Cheers, Björn Lindgren

  13. “Mitt Romney: Of course it’s time for the Assad dictatorship to end. And we should use covert activity, as Speaker Gingrich has just indicated. Look– the– the reason I disagree with Ron Paul on this is– that you have, in Syria, a nation which is an ally, the only Arab ally, of Iran. It is arming Hezbollah. It represents a– an access– of– of great significance to Iran. And as a result, because of our concern about Iran, and their effort to become the Hageman in the Middle East, it is important for– for us as a nation to stand up and to help those efforts to– to replace A– Assad. . ”

    The HAGEMAN? I think he meant to say ‘hegemon’. Or maybe he did, & the transcriber didn’t know it is a real word.

  14. It was the Muslim Brotherhood who also rose up in the Syrian city of Hama in the 1980s that led to the armed forces of Assad leveling that city and killing 5,000 of its inhabitants. That event is considered one of the great mass murders of that era.

  15. Romney as President would lead America into chaos. He’s made so many mistakes talking about the Middle East and is often confused, forgetful or is just plain dumb. Money nor degrees do not make you intelligent, wise, honest, incorruptibility nor spiritual. Consider that about half of Congress are millionaires. Congress, the Secretaries of the Treasury, the so called financial experts and giant corporations have failed Americans for over 30 years and still failing.

    Obama is backing the billionaires and their puppet millionaires and MIC, the Military Industrial Complex. He also afraid of taxing the rich or is just following orders.

    “Some of the most prosperous periods in US history (1950s and 1960s) have come during periods of super-high marginal income tax rates. And some of the most disastrous periods in US history (1970s, 2010s) have come after periods of super-low income tax rates.” (especially for the rich)

    “Do Low Tax Rates On Rich People Actually Ruin The Economy?”
    link to

    Excellent long article about taxation and the Federal Reserve, a private corporation that keeps their owners and share holders rich and America in debt:

    “How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich”
    link to
    link to

    Who in American would make a great President?

    Hell, I believe Juan Cole would become a great president. He’s got an excellent education for governing: history degrees–not like the law degrees of most politicians which is an education for lying and telling the best stories. Juan Cole is honest, intelligent, wise and spiritual. Yes, he makes an occasional mistake, he’s human. But he owns up to his mistakes. I just now read Juan Cole’s autobiography. Wow! He definitely would make a great President. He is exactly the person that America needs as the next President. Read his autobiography and if you don’t agree than I have to say you’re nuts. He would bring peace to the Middle East without any doubt. Read it!

    Excuse my simplicity, I’m 70, just a swimmer and politically ignorant.

    Seriously, please “Reply” to this post as to your best choice for president for America and the world. America needs a strong, will have serious problems with 4 years of a corrupt Democratic or Republican president.

  16. Romney doesn’t know what he believes. He’s about to be shaken like an Etch-a-Sketch, but that will just be some different positions to get him elected. If he ever becomes president he has no track record in foreign or defense policy so who knows what he will do? I sure don’t! Maybe Romney himself doesn’t know.

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