Indian Americans Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, who have emerged as strong contenders in the crowded field of GOP presidential contenders, are embroiled in a heated clash over their differing stances on the ongoing Middle East conflict, which has so far claimed more than 3,700 lives.
The conflict began when Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in control of the Gaza Strip, initiated a barrage of rocket attacks targeting major Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Simultaneously, thousands of militants infiltrated Israeli territory, launching attacks on both military and civilian targets, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Israelis and the abduction of more than a hundred hostages.
In response, Israel carried out retaliatory airstrikes, resulting in the loss of over 2,300 Palestinian lives in Gaza. These events have exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis in the enclave, further escalating tensions throughout the region.
Talking to reporters in New Hampshire, the biotech entrepreneur asserted that the former South Carolina governor should be “disqualified from being president,” according to Politico. He went on to accuse Haley of having “personal conflicts of interest,” which seemed to be a reference to her husband’s ties to the defense industry. Ramaswamy criticized what he called her “hawkish neoconservative vision” that raised concerns about the potential for “prolonged conflict and war.”
“Nikki Haley has foreign policy experience and it shows — in her bank account, to the tune of $8 million,” he said. “It is sick. Especially when you have a Biden crime family and the White House that has monetized their connections and their foreign policy and sold off our foreign policy. We don’t need to substitute them with a Republican version of the same,” Ramaswamy said. “I do not want a president anywhere near the White House who’s willing to march us into World War III, as [Haley’s] rhetoric suggests.”
Previously, Haley had accused Ramaswamy of holding foreign policy positions similar to that of the so-called progressive Democratic “squad” members, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib.
“Ramaswamy sounds like the squad,” Haley said. “And there’s no place for the squad or Ramaswamy.”
Friday’s was not the first salvo Ramaswamy fired at Haley over Gaza.
In an interview with Tucker Carlson posted on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 9, Ramaswamy questioned Haley’s position. “I don’t think [Haley is] a child,” he said. “I think that she is somebody, who is, like many politicians, in a position to get wealthier from war. Look at the military contracting business and otherwise.”
Ep. 29 After the Hamas attacks, what’s the wise path forward? pic.twitter.com/AwWkcLFUBb
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) October 9, 2023
In a lengthy post on X, Ramaswamy elaborated and doubled down the attack on Haley and pro-Israeli hawks. He wrote:
“I am disappointed and deeply concerned by the remarks of certain presidential candidates including @NikkiHaley who have irresponsibly called the Hamas attack an “attack on America” and rabidly shout “FINISH THEM!!” repeatedly without offering a pragmatic path forward. The U.S. should provide Israel with diplomatic support, intelligence-sharing, and necessary munitions to defend its own homeland, while taking special care to avoid a broader regional war in the Middle East that would *not* advance U.S. interests.”
The Hamas-led attacks on Israel were barbaric and cannot be condoned. We require a rational response that supports Israel while avoiding another U.S.-led disaster in the Middle East. I am disappointed and deeply concerned by the remarks of certain presidential candidates… pic.twitter.com/n5LfA8L40j
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) October 10, 2023
In the same Carlson interview, Ramaswamy also raised questions about the Israeli and U.S. intelligence failure that resulted in the attack.
“[There’s] one element of this that nobody’s talking about. What the hell went wrong with US and Israeli intelligence and the Israeli defense that allowed this to happen? Everybody seems to be punting that as a question for later. I think it’s a question for now if you’re Israel.”
In their campaign speeches and the two Republican debates, both Haley and Ramaswamy have been spelling out their separate foreign policy visions.
Haley, who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration, has positioned herself as an establishment Republican. Long been a vocal supporter of Israel, she has consistently advocated for a strong alliance between the United States and Israel.
In a recent address at the Reagan Library, Haley reaffirmed her commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, stating, “Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, and we should always stand by them.” She went on to express her concern about growing anti-Semitism and threats to Israel’s security, asserting that the United States must “maintain a firm and unwavering commitment to Israel’s safety and security.”
In contrast, Ramaswamy, a tech entrepreneur and author, has adopted a more nuanced position on the Israel-Palestine issue. He has been cautious about endorsing an unequivocal U.S. policy of unwavering support for Israel. Instead, Ramaswamy has called for a balanced approach, emphasizing the importance of a two-state solution and the need to address the Palestinian side of the equation.
During a recent appearance on Fox News, Ramaswamy explained his stance, saying, “I believe in a two-state solution where both Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully and thrive. It’s time for a more balanced and pragmatic approach to this complex issue.” Ramaswamy has faced criticism from some conservatives who argue that his stance might undermine the strong U.S.-Israel alliance.
The clash between Haley and Ramaswamy reflects a broader debate within the Republican Party over its approach to foreign policy, particularly regarding the Middle East. Historically, the GOP has been a staunch supporter of Israel, but as the Israel-Palestine conflict continues to evolve, some within the party are pushing for a more nuanced approach.
Ramaswamy is not the only Republican presidential candidate to question the Israeli preparedness in the run-up to the Hamas attack.
Just last week, the leading candidate in the Republican presidential primary, former President Donald Trump, voiced criticism against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.