In a Feb. 3, 2011, column for AOL News, Gordon called for greater U.S. leadership in pressuring both the Palestinians and Israelis to make peace, a view endorsed by the progressive Jewish American group J Street. Gordon wrote:
[S]olving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be understated, as it is of enormous symbolic importance in the Arab world. Efforts to date just have not been good enough, and the U.S. should apply more pressure to both sides — failure to do so is at our own peril.
When not calling for greater U.S. leadership in pushing the Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table, Gordon routinely echoed the view that the protraction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has immediate implications for the U.S.’s ability to pursue its security interests in the Middle East. This concept, known as linkage, was highly controversial back in March 2010, when Gen. David Petraeus endorsed the concept in his testimony at the House Armed Services Committee. Since then, the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and Israel’s settlement construction and other impediments to the peace process — damages U.S. national security interests has found backers in the White House and the military’s senior leadership.
In March 2010, Gordon wrote:
Al Qaeda’s top recruiting tools are the presence of U.S. troops in Muslim countries and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Guantanamo is but a minor sidelight compared to these broader issues.
And in a June 2010 op-ed in the Washington Times, Gordon argued that closing Guantanamo should be a low priority because the treatment of detainees was the least of the issues fueling Islamic terrorism and extremism. He wrote:
Anti-U.S. propaganda in the Middle East is fueled chiefly by the presence of American troops in the region, combined with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Guantanamo pales in comparison to these much broader issues.
The opinions expressed in his newspaper columns differ dramatically from the GOP primary field’s near-consensus that the U.S. should unconditionally support Israel and never publicly criticize Israeli policies. Texas Gov. Rick Perry stated he would support an Israeli attack on Iran even if it sparks a regional war. Mitt Romney said the U.S. shouldn’t “play the role of the leader of the peace process” and promised to only take “actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders.”
Gordon’s views might be shared by senior military officers but they’re a far-cry from the positions taken by his boss, Herman Cain. While Cain has yet to find his footing on foreign policy, his most recent position on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is to question whether Palestinian people even exist. That contrasts sharply with Gordon’s evenhanded view that Israeli and Palestinian leaders need the U.S. to push them to the bargaining table. And it’s nearly impossible to rectify how Cain’s views fit with his senior foreign policy adviser’s multiple assertions that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a vital U.S. national security interest.