Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has a penchant for knee-jerk blaming of the media when he is accurately quoted, defended his comments about defunding Israel by telling Sean Hannity that he understands “more deeply than probably anybody in this race” the foreign policy implications of the aid we give Israel because “I’ve traveled to Israel. I have business partners in Israel.”
As a reminder, other people “in this race” include President Joe Biden, who was also Vice President for eight years and was in the Senate for decades, where he was a longtime member and eventually Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, former Vice President Mike Pence who while serving in the House of Representatives sat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and former Governor and then United States Ambassador to the United Nations for two years, Nikki Haley.
Watch the full clip here:
Hannity: You said aid to Israel, our number one ally, only democracy in the region, should end in 2028 and that they should be integrated with their neighbors.
Ramaswamy: That’s false.
Hannity: That was the exact quote. You want me to read it?
Yikes. Being called out by Sean Hannity is a low worth appreciating. It goes on:
Ramaswamy: I can tell you the exact quote. What I said is it would be a mark of success if we ever got to a point in our relationship with Israel if Israel never needed the United States’ aid, and Sean, you know how politics is played. A lot of the other professional politicians who have been threatened by my rise have used that statement to say that I would cut off aid to Israel. That’s not correct. I’ve been crystal clear.
Hannity: Do you understand the importance of the Strategic Alliance the intelligence sharing in an area of the world where we have a lot of enemies… you do understand how important that Alliance is the intelligence, do you understand how important it is with Iran especially seeking nukes?
Ramaswamy: I understand it I think more deeply than probably anybody in this race. I’ve traveled to Israel. I have business partners in Israel. The reality is this, by the end of my first term our relationship with Israel will will be stronger than it ever has been because I will treat it as a true friendship, not just a transactional relationship.
Hannity: Then why did you say that they shouldn’t have preferential treatment? Why did you say that Israel should not have preferential treatment from us? That’s a direct quote.
Ramaswamy: No, those are direct quotes from headlines summarized by opposition research fed to the fake news media.
So you can see Ramaswamy shares Trump’s trait of accusing anyone who quotes him as being “fake news.” In this case, Ramaswamy has a slight point in that the accusation does leave out the nuance of what he said, but it is not, as he wrongly claimed, “false.” He did suggest that Israel should no longer get preferential treatment and that aid would be cut under his presidency (he has a habit of talking about himself/his policies as if he has already been elected, but he hasn’t even won the Republican primary yet).
Here is what he said in an interview with actor Russell Brand in early August:
“I want to get Israel to the place where it is negotiated back into the infrastructure of the rest of the Middle East. We should not be worried about holding one nation or one region hostage over one particular question relating to Palestine.”
And while speaking to the Washington Free Beacon, Ramaswamy said he would cut aid to Israel by 2028: “This week, he told the Washington Free Beacon that he supports ending the military funding once the current package passed by Congress expires in 2028, arguing that the aid will be unnecessary after he successfully negotiates new peace treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors during the first year of his presidency.
‘If we’re successful, the true mark of success for the U.S., and for Israel, will be to get to a 2028 where Israel is so strongly standing on its own two feet, integrated into the economic and security infrastructure of the rest of the Middle East, that it will not require and be dependent on that same level of historical aid or commitment from the U.S.’”
Given that the Republican’s overall foreign policy demeanor is one that is immature, over-eager, self-inflated and changes by the minute because he is learning about the complexities after he speaks while responding to criticism, it’s not a surprise that any nuance is lost.
So yes, he did actually suggest what he is accused of saying, but it was prefaced on the magical belief that he would somehow solve the Middle East by 2028 and therefore Israel wouldn’t need the aid.
This is a theme for him now, after he accused the Atlantic of lying about what he said about 9/11, only to have the Atlantic publish the audio of him saying exactly what he accused of saying, which by the way was a grotesque attempt to pivot from Trump’s January 6th terrorist attack. “I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers,” Ramaswamy told the Atlantic.
Many of us have traveled to a country and done business with other countries; it doesn’t magically impart special knowledge about the region, the delicate diplomatic issues, the national security implications of foreign aid, and more.
We saw this same belief in former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who infamously claimed the close proximity of Russia to Alaska gave her foreign policy experience because “we have trade missions back and forth.”
What does he base his belief in his magical powers upon? “The reality is this, by the end of my first term our relationship with Israel will will be stronger than it ever has been because I will treat it as a true friendship, not just a transactional relationship.”
That is an empty promise. It says “Believe me because I do.” Foreign policy is transactional by nature. That is how diplomats get other countries to go along with what benefits their country; they find a way to address the needs and wants of other countries.
This is a man who thinks that the Vice President can introduce and push through legislation in the Senate, and criticized Pence over his handling of Trump’s attempted self-coup insurrection on 1/6 over his own misunderstanding of basic things.
Yet, Ramaswamy is rising in the polls.