MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A cynical foreign policy/campaign strategy bombshell lurks, largely unnoticed, in the full transcript of the now-infamous "47 percent" tape secretly recorded at a Romney fundraiser. The remarks (revealed in the full Mother Jones transcript of the Florida mega-bucks gathering) further reinforce the dangerous gamble that the Romney campaign is making that if Americans were to be harmed or held hostage between now and election day, the Romney campaign would attempt to use such a nightmare as a "game changer" in the 2012 election.
A key current Romney campaign thrust (even after the candidate's opportunistic Libyan fiasco) is to attack Obama on foreign policy. Given that this is an area of polling strength for Obama, one can possibly speculate that the Romney campaign is hoping for increased upheaval in the Middle East that will lead to either American deaths or hostages.
Does this sound just overbearingly cynical and unfair?
Not according to Romney's own words, as posted on Mother Jones, which included this note in their summary of the former governor's comments that day: "Envisioning a pre-election hostage crisis, à la Iran and Jimmy Carter, [Romney said], "If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."
Romney's shocking statement came after a fat cat in the audience specifically brought up how Ronald Reagan used the Iranian hostage crisis to his campaign's advantage (allegedly having future CIA Director William Casey negotiate with the Iranian hostage holders to delay their release of the hostages until the moment of Reagan's inauguration in exchange for arms to fight Iraq at the time, according to many analysts).
Instead of dismissing the question as wishing suffering upon Americans for political advantage, Romney was intrigued with the idea of using harm coming to Americans overseas for political purposes:
"And yet," Romney responded, "in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we have hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean that's—that was—that was the focus, and so him [Reagan] solving that made all the difference in the world. I'm afraid today if you said, "We got Iran to agree to stand down a nuclear weapon," they'd go hold on. It's really a, but…by the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."
Admittedly, the questioner implies (erroneously) that the Iranians were so scared of Reagan that they released the hostages the moment that he was sworn in. But history reveals a far murkier picture, which indicates, more than likely that the Reagan campaign struck a deal with the Iranians to prolong the incarceration of the hostages for political benefit, thus winning the 1980 election.
This is not an unprecedented Republican approach. In 1968, Nixon's campaign got the US puppet South Vietnamese president to nix a potential military cessation agreement negotiated prior to the '68 election at the Paris peace talks. Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey went on to to narrowly lose the election, and the death and suffering in Vietnam was prolonged for years, including the killings of thousands of US soldiers.
So when Mitt Romney tells a bunch of super-rich supporters that he would take advantage of a hostage crisis (as he bumblingly attempted to do with the murders of the US ambassador and other American officials in Libya), you can pretty much bet he'd try to politically profit off the bloodshed or cruel treatment of US citizens abroad.
Don't take BuzzFlash at Truthout's word for it, just take Romney's word for it.