Walter Russell Mead, on why the Israel portion of Mitt Romney’s trip is the most important one.
Americans by and large like both Britain and Poland but they don’t think about them very much, and they don’t think of either country as requiring a lot of help from the United States — though most Americans would be ready to stand by either of these countries should trouble come.
But Israel is a different matter. Large numbers of Americans perceive that Israel is in more danger than either Britain or Poland, and that the United States is the only real friend Israel has. They also think that Israel’s most bitter enemies are also deadly enemies of the United States. After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there is not a lot of American appetite for launching new wars in the Middle East, but if anything that heightens the degree to which many people want the government to support what they see as the one real ally we have there.
Foreign policy experts can — and do — dispute many details of this vision of Israel’s situation and America’s interests, but the idea that Israel needs us and that it is both our moral duty and a strategic interest to support it to the hilt has sunk so deeply into the American public mind that Governor Romney can hardly go wrong in standing up for it.
Weirdly, there are people who get bothered by the above. Sad, really.