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GOP Debate Foreign Policy: Prolific Proliferators of Confusion

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
February 23, 2012
The Guardian

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Remember that promise by Michele Bachmann to shut down the US embassy in Iran? Only to be informed that there was no embassy in Tehran to shut down. As the field for the Republican presidential nomination has been winnowed out, I assumed we would see more attention to facts, particularly when addressing the sensitive and volatile developments in the Middle East. I was wrong.

The Republican presidential debates are not just watched by Americans, but people all over the world. Iranians and Arabs will not recognize descriptions of their countries. In their opening statements, both Gingrich and Santorum felt an impulsive need to frame Arabs in a negative light, in need of Republican benevolence. Within seconds of stating his name, Santorum declared that "the Middle East is in flames." Is it really? And then came "I am Newt Gingrich and I've developed a program for American energy so no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again."

After such conciliatory and productive opening statements, when asked by CNN's John King later in the debate about the videos (of killings) coming out of Syria and whether there should be US intervention or not, Santorum used the opportunity to return to Bachmann's theme of Iran-bashing.

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