Author Jared Diamond argues that Mitt Romney's controversial comments about Israeli culture, which featured a reference to his own book, misrepresent his work in a New York Times op-ed Thursday. Diamond sets the record straight with a brief summary of his own thesis, arguing that both geography and culture play a role in a nation's successes.
In Israel, Romney said that the country's culture accounts for its economic success, which he then juxtaposed to the economy of Palestine. Romney contrasts this cultural emphasis with Diamond's book "Guns, Germs and Steel" which he says "basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth."
"That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it," Diamond writes in his op-ed. "My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents' sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, 'No Apology: Believe in America.')"
Diamond ends with another Romney rebuke.
Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.