Republican presidential candidates held yet another public debate on Tuesday, and much of the talk was devoted to foreign policy. And much of the foreign policy talk was devoted to American relations with Israel, and whether or not the US should help Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Frontrunner Mitt Romney was vague on whether or not he would join Israel in a military strike on Iran, but strongly stressed his support of Israel in general. Romney said that if elected, his first foreign state visit will be to Israel.
Romney also took current US President Barack Obama to task, accusing him of being unfriendly toward Israel. Despite a strong focus on Israeli-Arab peace efforts over the course of his first term, Obama has yet to visit the Jewish state.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been gaining steam in the primary race of late, also stressed his unwavering support of Israel, and said he would likely join Israel in striking Iran, but would first want to make sure there was no other option to military action.
Even if he did not commit US forces to such an attack, Gingrich said it would nevertheless be absolutly necessary to support Israel in a military strike on Iran, as not doing so would leave the Jewish state isolated and encourage an attack by its enemies.
Popular but maligned candidate Herman Cain said he, too, would support an Israeli attack on Iran, and would likely commit US forces.
The only candidate to outright reject the idea of support an Israeli strike on Iran was Ron Paul, who said he did not think Israel would take such action, anyway.
“Why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way,” said Paul, which he clarified also meant an end to US financial aid to Israel.
“We don’t even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel? So I think they’re quite capable of taking care of themselves,” said Paul.
Ron Paul’s objection to foreign aid to Israel or any other nation is well known. What is likely to irk most Republicans about his debate remarks is the fact that he would not use US power to help Israel in the event of a massive Iranian counter-strike.
If Israel attacks Iran “that’s their business, but they should suffer the consequences,” Paul said.