“My View” from the Nov. 19, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Note to John McCain and other Republicans who love to talk about foreign policy: The election is over. The moment for partisanship, if it was ever appropriate when foreign policy was the topic, has passed. Recall we used to say, “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” And we believed it. Now is the time to focus on answers and solutions, if there are any, to the vexing issues we confront in a complicated and turbulent world.
Why is this re-affirmation of the obvious so necessary? Because even yesterday John McCain, perhaps the most senior Republican voice on foreign policy, continued to rant against the president.
Since the election, every time I have a foreign policy conversation with a Republican still sore about the outcome, every disagreement is cast in partisan terms — “Isn’t the Benghazi tragedy a cover-up for something? Why is the turmoil in Gaza erupting so soon after the election?” As if the president somehow delayed the crisis until after Nov. 6.
It is all kind of nuts, maybe a last stage in Republican grief or denial that hopefully will pass soon. Especially since in the entirety of the presidential campaign, neither Mitt Romney nor anybody in the Republican Party suggested a significantly different approach to any of the hot spots around the world. Recall the “me too” foreign policy debate where Romney merely parroted every answer President Obama gave?
We all acknowledge that many regions of the world really are a mess, with the Middle East leading the pack right now. Syria’s civil war is a continuing humanitarian disaster; Hamas is raining rockets down on Israel, with the predictable and appropriate response; and Iran is marching forward with its nuclear enrichment process, getting awfully close to whatever red lines have been drawn — publicly or privately.
Simply stating that we need to get the Middle East peace process back on track is too vapid an answer. While I do like the idea of sending Bill Clinton back to see if the talks can be revived, the moment simply may not be propitious for a broader agreement. Beyond seeking a cease-fire to the current fireworks, there are too many moving pieces and deep-seated hostilities that need to be resolved before the existing outline of a two-state solution can be made more real.
And it is not yet clear what role Egypt will play. Public rhetoric aside, behind the curtain President Mohamed Morsi seems to be establishing a more modulated path between Hamas and Israel. With appropriate encouragement, Egypt could join Turkey as a moderate, democratic Islamic nation helping us thread the needle in this tortured region.
This is where real diplomacy is needed, not theatrics by disappointed Republicans trying to unearth non-existent cover-ups in the tragedy of Benghazi. So let’s go back to that age-old maxim: Politics stops at the water’s edge.
That’s “My View.”