‘You Have No Foreign Policy Experience’: Candidates Clash Over Israel at First US Presidential Debate

Former US Vice President Mike Pence, left, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy, right, at the first Republican candidates’ debate of the 2024 US presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, August 23, 2023. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The issue of American military aid to Israel featured prominently in the first US Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday evening, with former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley clashing with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy over foreign policy.

“He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia. He wants to let China eat Taiwan. He wants to go and stop funding Israel,” Haley said of Ramaswamy. “You don’t do that to friends … you have no foreign policy experience, and it shows.”

Ramaswamy responded that Haley’s charges were “the false lies of a professional politician” and that he “wish[ed] her well on her future career on the boards of Lockheed [Martin] and Raytheon,” two major defense contractors that work with the US Department of Defense.

“The foreign policy experience that you all have shows in the pointless wars that you all have gotten us into,” Ramaswamy said, speaking to the other candidates on the debate stage. “Our relationship with Israel will never be stronger than by the end of my first term, but it’s not a client relationship — it is a friendship. And you know what friends do? Friends help each other stand on their own two feet.”

Ramaswamy, who is currently polling third in the Republican primary behind former President Donald Trump and current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, suggested in an interview last week that Israel received preferential treatment from Washington, saying if he were president there would be “no North Star commitment to any one country” except the US.

The 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur also called for ending US aid to the Jewish state. The current American aid package of $38 billion to Israel expires in 2028.“Come 2028, that additional aid won’t be necessary in order to still have the kind of stability that we’d actually have in the Middle East by having Israel more integrated in with its partners,” Ramaswamy said.

Israel, historically the largest recipient of US military assistance at more than $3 billion a year, is largely required to spend the aid on US-manufactured equipment.

Earlier this week, Haley slammed Ramaswamy over his comments, calling her rival candidate “completely wrong.

”Ramaswamy said at Wednesday’s debate that, as president, he would seek an “Abraham Accords 2.0” to build on the series of historic peace agreements between Israel and Arab states brokered with the help of the Trump administration. Ramaswamy also said he would partner with Israel to prevent a nuclear armed Iran, adding he admired the Jewish state for its domestic policies.

“But you know what I love about Israel?” he asked. “I love their border policies. I love their tough on crime policies. I love that they have a national identity and an Iron Dome to protect their homeland. And so, yes, I want to learn from the friends that we’re supporting.”

Haley interjected that he wanted to cut off aid and that “it’s not that Israel needs America; America needs Israel.

”While former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t chime in on the exchange, he did wear a lapel pin featuring the flags of the US and Israel throughout the debate.

One candidate absent from Wednesday’s debate was Trump, the front-runner by a wide margin to win the Republican nomination.

Following the debate, Trump declared Ramaswamy the winner on social media, citing a clip in which the biotech entrepreneur called Trump “the best president of the 21st century.”

“This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you Vivek!” Trump wrote.

Original Article: https://www.algemeiner.com/2023/08/24/no-foreign-policy-experience-candidates-clash-israel-first-us-presidential-debate/