We all know that Congressman Lee Zeldin is far right on domestic issues: dismantling Obamacare, trampling women’s rights and gay rights, and demonizing minorities. But few realize how his narrow-minded, tribalist world view carries into extremist foreign policy positions.
The bullying “America alone” Trump-Zeldin approach has upended decades of bipartisan American respect for the international order, the alliances, treaties and institutions that keep our world from spinning out of control.
I have spent many years in the Middle East and I met with Congressman Zeldin to discuss our troubled U.S. policies in the region, hoping to see a way out. It was so depressing that I went home and put a pillow over my head.
A few things stood out:
Zeldin is incoherent and loves to obfuscate. When I asked whether he would support limiting the sale of arms to the Saudis, given how American weapons are being used to kill Yemeni civilians, he responded, “Not, not unless … not unless there’s … I’m not completely … no one’s read members like myself in Congress completely up on strategically what the big picture is with that deal.” And on and on.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are among his biggest donors, so no surprise there, no matter how many innocent children die.
Zeldin is no fan of democracy. The Trump/Zeldin approach is to insult long-standing democratic allies, such as Canada, Germany and France, while cozying up to authoritarian dictators who are perfectly happy to poison (Russia), dismember (Saudi Arabia) and assassinate (Egypt) their dissident citizens.
Zeldin is not concerned that Israel’s absorbing the West Bank will preclude the possibility of a democratic Jewish state. No surprise there, either: His chief benefactor is far-right fanatic Sheldon Adelson, the Israeli Rupert Murdoch.
Zeldin is out of touch. I asked Zeldin why Congress had just voted to slash the aid budget to Tunisia, the great hope for democracy in the Arab world, from $120 million a year to a paltry $70 million. Zeldin’s answer: “I don’t know — how much did we cut?” I told him, “Almost half. This happened yesterday.” Zeldin had voted for the cut. He told me that he would have to ‘dig deeper’ and get back to me. Unsurprisingly, this did not happen.
If you believe that saying “Black Lives Matter” means white lives don’t, or if you hear Spanish and can only think of MS-13, or if you think that all Muslims are inherently violent, then Trump/Zeldin is your team.
But if you believe that the world has grown too small for fear-mongering, endless wars, and abrogation of our responsibilities to our fellow man and to the planet, then please vote for Nancy Goroff. We must do better.
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One fine body…