Home/Daniel Larison/A New and Unusually Stupid Hawkish Litmus Test

A New and Unusually Stupid Hawkish Litmus Test

Dave Weigel reports on the creation of a new and incredibly stupid foreign policy litmus test in the Republican nomination contest:

In his Monday night interview with Sean Hannity, Florida Senator Marco Rubio became the first Republican presidential candidate to demand a concession from Iran that’s as politically resonant at home as it is untenable in Tehran.

“There should have been a clear recognition on their part that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state,” Rubio said, of Iran’s concessions in negotiations.

This is the sort of demand that hard-liners tend to make because they are absolutely opposed to reaching any deal with another government. The demand is so obviously irrelevant to the negotiations and so likely to be rejected by the other side that only those that want diplomacy to fail would think to include it. Any politician that endorses this demand is declaring to the entire world that he is a fanatic (or a panderer to fanatics) and has no business conducting the foreign policy of the United States.

Netanyahu’s recent statement that Iran should be made to recognize Israel’s “right to exist” as part of any deal came under harsh criticism from a former head of the Mossad because it was such an absurdly excessive demand. The version that Rubio supports is even more ridiculous. It would be requiring a kind of recognition of Israel that goes beyond what Israel’s neighbors have done when they signed treaties with Israel. Officially defining Israel as a “Jewish state” in law is one of the controversial things Netanyahu tried to do last year that contributed to the break-up of his last coalition. In other words, Iran hawks want Iran to recognize Israel in a way that Israel does not officially use.

The new demand is irrelevant because it has nothing to do with the nuclear issue, but more to the point Israel isn’t a party to the negotiations. Insisting that Iran recognize a state that isn’t involved in the negotiations is nonsensical. This is especially true when everyone understands in advance that it is a demand that no Iranian negotiator could accept. Any candidate that agrees with making this demand thereby proves himself too incompetent or reckless in matters of diplomacy to be taken seriously as a presidential contender.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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