Campaign Marches to Iran Drum Beat

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Mitt Romney, seen on screen, speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), via satellite in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Mitt Romney, seen on screen, speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), via satellite in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

If you listened to Mitt Romney’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference earlier today or read his op-ed piece in yesterday’s Washington Post, you might think his way of handling the Iranian nuclear crisis would mark a sharp departure from the Obama administration’s approach.

In the editorial, Romney recalls the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis that helped Ronald Reagan defeat President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. He writes:

America and the world face a strikingly similar situation today; only even more is at stake. The same Islamic fanatics who took our diplomats hostage are racing to build a nuclear bomb. Barack Obama, America’s most feckless president since Carter, has declared such an outcome unacceptable, but his rhetoric has not been matched by an effective policy. While Obama frets in the White House, the Iranians are making rapid progress toward obtaining the most destructive weapons in the history of the world.

(Asked about Romney’s “feckless” characterization at today’s White House press conference, President Obama referred instead to the “Super Tuesday” primaries and told the former governor, “Good luck tonight. No, really.”)

Romney claims he will take “every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs” and lists what he says he would do if he were president. But how different are his ideas, really?

Not that different, writes New York Times reporter Helene Cooper in today’s paper:

“To rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Mitt Romney says he would conduct naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to remind Iran of American military might. He would try to ratchet up Security Council sanctions on Iran, targeting its Revolutionary Guards, and the country’s central bank and other financial institutions. And if Russia and China do not go along, he says, the United States should team up with other willing governments to put such punitive measures in place.

As it turns out, that amounts to what President Obama is doing.”

Two developments this morning indicate that the U.S. sanctions may be achieving their desired effect. Iranian officials agreed to allow UN investigators to visit a military complex where they suspect that Iran is working on an atom bomb. And, members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – and Germany announced plans to resume talks with Iran.

Previous talks broke up last January when Iran refused to discuss their uranium enrichment program. According to The Guardian, the hardest line in re-opening the talks was taken by the French, who insisted “that in order to satisfy Israel that all was being done to resolve the nuclear crisis by peaceful means … the talks would have to end with the ‘full implementation’ of UN security council resolutions calling for the suspension of uranium enrichment.” Iran agreed to the terms.

There is no word yet on when or where the talks will be held, but for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they can’t come soon enough. “None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation,” he told the 14,000 members of AIPAC in Washington this week.

Whether the Iranians are ready for serious negotiations or using the inspection and talks as a stalling tactic to hold off the Israelis, don’t expect the Iranian crisis to fall out of the campaign rhetoric anytime soon.

As Suzanne Maloney observes in this month’s American Prospect magazine, “For American politicians, talking tough on Iran is the foreign-policy equivalent of kissing babies—it may be clichéd, but it works.” At his news conference, President Obama told reporters, “What is said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They are not commander-in-chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war … This is not a game, and there is nothing casual about it.”

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  • Barry

    It’s easy for the politicians of all governments to talk about going to war … and getting us into wars … but they are not the ones who get butchered and and maimed. It’s also interesting to hear the countries with the nuclear weapons talking about forbidding nations without them from having nuclear weapons…. and I only know of one country who has ever used them.  Nobody wins in war … that is a historical fact! Where are the voices of the sane people on this planet and why are there voices not heard in the media?

  • Kenny

    I remember JFK’s thoughts after the Cuban crisis in 1962.  That we in America and Russia all breath the same air and that we are all mortal.  Iranians do not believe this at all.  They believe in a 72-virgin-paradise with a diety who was a murderer, liar and pedaphile.  I have lived my entire life with a nuclear Russia and China.  Iranians are willing to blow themselves to smithereens for Mohammed, no matter if its TNT or Nuclear fission.  I believe in peace but I believe that we have to do everything in our power to stop these crazies.  Imagine Hitler with the bomb in 1944.

  • K G


  • GradyLeeHoward

    Greeks wrote tales about far-off lands where creatures lived with the head of a man and the body of a bull. Such tales seemed exotic and were used for political mobilization of bias, hatred and fear. Knowing little of Shiaa Islam and little of 80 million Iranians makes you look ignorant for robo calling these blanket statements. Christianity has its peculiarities too as regards the afterlife. I’ll bet you’ve seen a few war movies where John Wayne committed suicide and took a nest of Japs with him. We could get a religious president crazy about Armageddon someday and he could pull the ultimate John Wayne. Iranians love one another just as we do, and they value life over death, with the great majority having no particular hate for Americans, or even Israelis. Our leaders posture and threaten just as theirs do. Are you ready to join troops deployed for an invasion, Kenny? I think all nuclear weapons should be disarmed, even all nuclear generation plants. Threatening to nuke Iran is not the way to accomplish that. The problem is that our Elite wants to control Iran’s oil, and that’s the name of that tune. I wonder where you gathered your misinformation. You need to blame your sources.
    They’re just using you and keeping you scared for control. Minotaurs ain’t for real. Good night and pleasant dreams. Don’t let the Limbaughs bite.

  • Annienomad

    Multi-media poem on the futility of War and the use of religion to justify violence/expansionism. (1 min. 11 secs) .

    “The Game” by annienomad-cyberpoet

  • leftofcenter

    Stay out of Iran.

  • Unsanitorial

    ‘nother good one, Sharee

  • Unsanitorial

    Where are you, Grady?
    Did you hear a Jetblue pilot went bonkers and wanted to crash the plane between New York and Las Vegas?
    I just hope the Neocons don’t slip Bashful Barry a Mickey.

  • Unsanitorial

    Stay, stay home!

  • Unsanitorial

    CAPS is almost never the answer either.

  • Richard

     Positive:  Mistaken at the top of one’s voice
    Ambrose Bierce

  • Anonymous

    Will the real Mitt Romney stop pandering to the War Machine?