The Wonk Room filed this report from Herzliya, Israel.
Speaking on the closing night of Israel’s annual Herzliya Conference, Mississippi governor and presumed presidential candidate Haley Barbour, after joking in his thick Southern drawl that he “was flattered to learn that a lot of people here asked for my speech to be interpreted in to English,” declared that he “subscribe[s] to the school of politics that says on national security and foreign policy issues, politics stops at the water’s edge”:
We shouldn’t criticize or even disagree with our government’s actions when we’re overseas. We shouldn’t allow people to think that we speak for our government. I do not.
Barbour’s statement could be seen as a rebuke to fellow Republicans like former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), both of whom, on previous trips to Israel, have stridently criticized the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Israel to halt illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Later in Barbour’s speech, however, he showed that he has somewhat looser standards in regard to shameless fear-mongering while overseas:
For those who care about Israel, or the Western world for that matter, we must focus on Iran as the crucial strategic issue… We must recognize [Iran's] goal of destroying Western civilization.
On a panel immediately preceding Barbour’s speech, Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar issued a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renew the settlement moratorium and “stop Israel’s settlement dispute with the international community in order to help it focus on Iran.” The settlements can wait, Javedanfar said, but “the Iranian nuclear program cannot.”