A Budget That Slashes American Progress and Strength At Home and Abroad

The Ryan/Romney budget proposals and their declarations and speeches all indicate that a Republican win in November will inevitably result in budget that guts American progress at home and abroad. (See our summaries in posts on Ryan’s budget for energy and environment and on the DOD/Diplomacy.)

With Paul Ryan now front and center on the Republican ticket and with the Republican Congressional record of slash and burn legislative bills and proposals, we can see clearly an outline of an America that is both greedy, nasty, wrongheaded for our times and conditions, and cruel to especially the “least among us”.

It is so un-American that it  makes one wonder what kind of nation we are becoming – perhaps one that only Ayn Rand and Sheldon Adelson might recognize, perhaps that cruel “Brave New World,” but not one that Jefferson, Lincoln, or the two Roosevelts would recognize.

It is a budget that only favors the very very rich via tax cuts for the 1% and that cuts programs and tax items that are important for the middle class and the poor of our nation. It is no path to build a strong and secure nation.

It cuts just those programs that would ensure the security and posterity of our country, including education of our children, support for higher education for middle class students, and gutting our key science and technology programs. Not least, it does away with our critical clean energy efforts to achieve global ecological security.  These clean energy programs put Americans to work at productive jobs but also reduce our energy dependence abroad.  These programs act to make America in the forefront of green energy technology which will be critical for the well being of our planet in this century and in future centuries.

But one of the immediate impacts of the Ryan/Romney budget agenda is essentially to increase our military spending even if it is on just useless old cold war expensive hardware – not likely to be used in the conflicts  we will see in this century. (See our post on defense budget.)  This useless stuff is designed to enrich the military industrial corporations and their massively overpaid executives that have been big supporters of the Republican right wing. It is not going to enhance our real security compared to a more relevant and prioritized defense effort aimed at current challenges and careful strategy.

On the other hand, the Ryan/Romney budget dismembers our diplomacy and aid programs that act as tools to prevent conflicts, address global climate change, and cooperation with our allies, in dealing with the many global challenges we face.  These include major food crisis that threatens widespread starvation, life threatening water shortages, the global spread of deadly diseases, or stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction before they are developed or used.

The Ryan/Romney approach sees the “hard” military option as the favored tool to deal with  the consequences of the Bush era idiot plan of inattention to our real challenges. The approach simply blindly waits for conflict and major crises to fully develop and then can only throw  the lives of our brave soldiers into the mess we have let developed. The horrendous costs of Republican indifference and cheapness to address the fundamental issues, has shown a head in the the sands approach that is hard to understand.  What is clear, is they care nothing for those that have to fight their unneeded dirty mindless battles.

If and when their excess of inaction, greed and myopia appears again it will be the average  taxpayer’s money that will once more bail out the billionaires and industrial military groups that cared little for the waste of useless weapons or jobs lost so they could stuff their own pockets.

But America’s internal and external security will be diminished by the greed of its now ascendant and money loving far right autocracy.  Its security will be less, the world will be less secure, there will be more poverty, more conflicts and an ever increasingly marginalized majority of the middle class and poor who are paying the costs.

We welcome your comments!

The Debate Over Iran Policy Heats Up with Romney’s Trip

We now seem engaged in another crazy debate about going to war with Iran.  We have gone over this issue here before and the vast majority of experts see only disaster if we get involved in another war with a major Middle Eastern nation, particularly when we have other tools to address this potential threat.

One prime super hawk is Ambassador John Bolton, a scholar at the right wing American Enterprise Institute, an advisor to Mitt Romney, and appropriately now a Fox News contributor. Recently he urged an Israeli attack on Iran which he believes is behind the reportedly Hezbollah-run bus bombing operation in Bulgaria.  

Media reports from the Romney trip to Israel seem to again indicate his strong bend towards an aggressive stance on Iran. Yet often he simply repeats the Obama Administration’s Iran policies but in a more “belligerent” way.  One of Romney’s senior foreign policy advisors, Dan Senor, said before Romney’s own speech in Jerusalem that Romney would support Israel’s right to launch a unilateral military strike against Iran. This act would have disastrous consequences for peace in the region and for any kind of real security for Israel in the aftermath.  This matches the Bolton remarks and one must wonder if all of this is not a kind of “wink-wink” charade to have his minions speak irresponsibly of war while Romney himself takes a more careful approach. 

Romney himself said in his talk that “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option” which implied that military action was a more likely path and indeed even preemptive action. His full speech is on our blog. Much of it was focused on Iran, and while he did mention the threat of Hezbollah and Hamas, Romney gave little attention to the Middle East peace process, to the Palestinian issues, or the “two state” solution which many of his right wing Jewish and other key backers are hostile towards. 

Romney’s implicit promise to move our Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv shows complete ignorance of the subtleties of Middle East diplomacy since we and most of the world do not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem that took place after the 1967 war, and we have said that the boundaries of Israel and a new Palestinian state would be determined in negotiations between the two parties. Our stance on this gives credibility to us being a fair mediator in helping the peace effort.  Romney’s visit to Israel gave succor to the Israeli hawks as well as to his own neocon and far right base. But they likely hurt the possibilities of real peace through honest negotiations that can lead to lasting regional stability and real security for Israel in this volatile area.

On the other side of the debate is former National Security Advisor for President Clinton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who on an interview program recently warned against a war with Iran. He said: “A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years…and the economic consequences of it are going to be devastating for the average American.”

Brzezinski also said: “High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene… Can you name me any significant country that’s going to be in that war together on our side?…That’s something no one can afford to ignore,”

I agree with Brzezinski and would go further that such a war would result in so many unintended consequences for both us and our allies that this should be the last option to put on the table. The problem of an initiated war on Iran, without direct and imminent threat, is that it has so many dangerous outcomes as to boggle the mind.

Already there is a build up on both sides of their naval forces in the Persian Gulf.  Many military experts believe that both sides would likely suffer major losses and that there would be a serious disruption to the 20% of global traded oil that flows through this area.  While we would “prevail” in an armed conflict, the larger cost may not be worth the ancillary and external costs in human lives and loss of our defense assets which could include the death of civilians in an exchange in major weapons fire.  Would we really wish to occupy or massively bomb Iran a country of nearly 75 million – the majority of which live in urban areas?  Look at Iraq – such action against Iran would be several times that cost. The Obama administration and the EU are tightening its sanctions and the diplomatic “option” is not only still on the table, it is being perused at all levels. These and other options propose less risk and consequences than a major military strike – which would be dangerous for all parties. 

We welcome your comments!

For a comparison of Obama and Romney’s views of foreign policy, check out our 2012 Candidate Quotes Page!

Romney: The Innocent Abroad or the Sabre Rattling Nationalist?

Romney from a low point in his hapless and empty foreign policy speech at the VFW convention in Reno, Nevada, (See text….) has embarked on a very political and likely symbolic and rather pitiable foreign adventure with the intent to gain money, profile, and win some ethnic votes here at home. He seems not at all interested in really learning and is more concerned with scoring political points at home. Nor has he a clue to foreign sensibilities. 

On July 25th, a largely conservative Washington Post journalist characterized Romney as showing “an assertive American nationalism…. calling for a more aggressive posture in confronting the United States rivals and more consistency in dealing with its allies.” However, the recent comments by the newly minted right wing GOP candidate Gov. Romney have been nothing but empty words. 

Romney, a neophyte in foreign and security policy, is under the influence of uber hawks like Ambassador John Bolton, of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute who was a key member of the George W. Bush administration’s gang of “gotta get into wars” neocons that included Vice President Cheney.  These neocons pushed the un-needed war in Iraq, lied about weapons of mass destruction, and now seem bent on making enemies by doing the same with countries around the world.  

Their main aim and tactical tool, shown also on this trip abroad, is one of derogating President Obama’s character as less than American. In one of Romney’s remarks he said: “If you don’t want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president”, implying that Obama was not interested in America being a strong nation.  These have been the continuing GOP themes ever since the 2008 election and in desperation they have brought out every nasty, racist, and jingoist imagery in order to hide the fact that their substantive domestic and foreign policy which lack believability, favor just the very rich, and would be an international disaster with our allies and friends as well as with key problematic powers – whom we must deal with to achieve our national security goals.  

The BBC cemented that Romney seemed rather stiff and not at ease abroad.  To quote: “He looked stiff, as he always does, and slightly nervous.”  Another negative note was an ill-timed criticism by Romney of the British preparation for the London Olympics. For that comment the London mayor Boris Johnson, also known for putting his foot in his mouth, made the remark a subject of a rhetorical gibe to a Hyde Park crowd. Mr. Romney, embarrassed, backtracked after meeting UK PM David Cameron and predicted a “very successful” Olympics. There were however a number of gaffs.

Even at the start of the trip the Romney campaign made a misstep. When he arrived in London on Wednesday, his campaign found itself on the defensive after an unidentified Romney adviser was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper as saying: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special. Again, this implied that Obama does not, even when just months before Obama made that very point. The same advisor, later said to be a member of Romney’s foreign policy advisory team, stated “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

The conservative British newspaper said the remarks might “prompt accusations of racial insensitivity”. Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg responded to these comments, stating: “It’s not true. If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”  US Vice-President Joseph Biden said the adviser’s remarks were a “disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage.”

While in London, Romney met with Prime Minister Cameron, the opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the head of the UK intelligence agency (MI6).  Not least he raised some $2 million from rich Americans abroad mostly in the banking sector. 

All these racial allusions which some would say bigotry, do not play well in Europe where Obama’s approval ratings are around an 80 percent level. Romney is not trying to make friends abroad but rather playing to a right wing base at home. 

On Saturday, Mr. Romney is due to travel to Israel where he is to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials. Doubtlessly he will again take an aggressive stance on Iran and pledge the use of force and undying support of Israel. He will make a speech on foreign policy and again will hold a fundraiser where right wing Jewish Americans living abroad, will again provide enormous chunks of money for his campaign. He goes to Poland on Monday to talk with the country’s leaders and visit historical sites. 

What a contrast to Obama’s historic and well received visit made before his 2008 election where crowds attended his events and during which he addressed in a serious tone the major global challenges ahead. That tour ended with a speech to hundreds of thousands of people outside the Victory Column in Berlin, Germany.

 He clearly seems out of his depth abroad not a good sign for a candidate running for the position of leader of the free world.

We welcome your comments!

For a comparison of Obama and Romney’s views of foreign policy, check out our 2012 Candidate Quotes Page!

Obama and Romney: Foreign Policy Speeches at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Conference

Both Romney and Obama gave speeches this week at the VFW conference and focused on their foreign policy objectives and America’s national security. Obama focused his speech on the promises he has kept over his term including ending the war in Iraq, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. Romney took this opportunity to emphasize America’s diminishing presence around the world – and in his opinion Obama’s key role in this decline.

Obama’s Key Points:

Obama focused his speech on the promises he has kept as Commander-in-Chief. He stated, “as we look at the ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that’s required, you don’t just have my words, you have my deeds. You have my track record. You have the promises I’ve made and the promises that I’ve kept”

Iraq

He spoke of his success in honorably ending the war in Iraq while jabbing at Romney’s current vagueness in his foreign policy objectives, “When you’re Commander-in-Chief, you owe the troops a plan, you owe the country a plan – and that includes recognizing not just when to begin wars, but also how to end them”.

Afghanistan and bin Laden

He also stated his achievements in both killing Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders as well as finishing the job in Afghanistan. In his speech, he states,“But since I took office, we’ve worked with our allies and our partners to take out more top al Qaeda leaders than any time since 9/11”. While not saying Romney’s name, he addressed the criticism of his opponent for his timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, stating “there are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war…but you know what, that’s not a plan for America’s security…I felt it was important that the American people – and our men and women in uniform – know our plan to end this war responsibly”.

US Role in the World

Obama emphasized America’s continued leadership and alliances across the world – a point which Romney has been criticizing him for. “We’re leading from Europe to the Asia pacific, with alliances that have never been stronger. We’re leading the fight against nuclear dangers. We’ve applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea…We’re leading on behalf of freedom”

He again stressed America’s role in the world, saying that “because we’re leading around the world, people have a new attitude toward America. There’s more confidence in our leadership”

Syrian Crisis

In discussing American leadership, Obama stated US response to the Syrian Crisis – focusing on working with friends and allies as well as the Syrian opposition to transition the Syrian government from the Assad regime. Obama reinforced Assad’s culpability and stated that. “…given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States”

Defense Cuts

Obama also brought up looming sequestration – calling out Republicans and stating “let’s stop playing politics with our military”.

Obama chastised the Republican Party – reminding them that “there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want to you to know that most of them voted for these cuts…instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military”

*Full Transcript Available Here*

Romney’s Key Points:

Romney focused his speech on America’s decline as the world’s leader and Obama’s relinquishment of US leadership around the world. From Iran, to U.S. relations with Israel, China as well as the Obama strategy in Afghanistan, the Romney speech was a broad assault on the president who, Romney asserted, has “diminished American leadership,” leaving the world “dangerous, destructive, and chaotic.”

America’s Declining Influence under Obama

Romney focused on his belief that President Obama has relinquished US-leadership around the world.  Romney stressed that Obama’s failed leadership has lead to the “consequence of American weakness” as is “seen around us in the world”.

While Romney stressed Obama’s lack of leadership and that if “we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction”, he failed to mention any specific policies that he would take as president.

An “American Century”

A key focus of Romney’s speech was the need for this century to be an “American Century”, touting America’s greatness and the right of the United States to use its power. He stated at the conference, “I am not ashamed of American power…I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced” 

Afghanistan

The only issue in which Romney actually proposed a plan was Afghanistan – a policy plan, however, which mirrors that of the Obama administration. “As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders”. – In what way is this policy a change from the Obama administration?

Iran

Romney stated Iran as America’s greatest threat in the world and called for “firmness, clarity, and moral courage” against Iran. In what actions should be taken, Romney stated enforced sanctions and effective negotiations. “Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections”. Romney’s policy plans here again do not differ from Obama’s and while he further stated that he “will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region”, he was vague in what this protection entails.

Russia

Romney also emphasized Obama’s concessions to the Russian government and the corruption in Vladimir Putin’s administration – stating that these concessions again showed America’s weakness under the Obama administration on the world stage. Referring to Putin, Romney stated, “He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office…why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?”

China

Romney, additionally, stressed the rising challenge of China and condemned China’s “flagrant patent and copyright violations” and currency manipulation. Romney critiqued Obama’s lack of action on stopping China from cheating in these regards, stating “cheating must finally be brought to a stop. President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.”

Israel

Romney criticized Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu and the state of Israel. Referring to Obama, Romney stated, “He has undermined their position…the people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world”

Defense Cuts

Romney brought up sequestration and blamed Obama for these across the board cuts, saying that now was a time to further strengthen our military might and citing such threats as Iran’s nuclear capabilities and Islamic terrorism. “This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours”

*Full Transcript Available Here*

Commentary:

The relative lack of attention that foreign policy has received so far in the election campaign is largely the result of the weak economy and high levels of unemployment.

One of the dangers for Romney of spending so much time talking foreign policy is that it will highlight the lack of specifics behind some of his policies – which leading Republicans have struggled to explain. Instead, Romney has continued with broad jabs casting Obama as a timid leader. While Romney focused his speech on critiquing Obama, he still failed to address what steps or policies he would take that differ from Obama. The Romney campaign has shown few signs that the presumptive GOP nominee will offer more specific areas of contrast with Obama. Biden in response to Romney’s VFW speech, blasted him saying Romney did a “compelling job of laying out exactly what the administration is already doing,” adding that if launching a war against Iran is what Romney is for, “he should tell the American people.”

This foreign policy debate is expected to continue as Romney travels to London, Poland, and Israel this week.

**For more quotes on foreign policy and national security, visit our 2012 Candidate Quotes Section**

The 2012 Candidates on National Security: An Overview

With Rick Santorum out of the race, Mitt Romney’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate is inevitable. We have continuously kept track of interesting quotes by the 2012 candidates on this blog (and there have been many), but with only two viable options left, it’s time to step back and look at Obama’s and Romney’s general views on foreign policy.

Romney has continuously criticized the President for “apologizing forAmerica.” He is a believer in American exceptionalism and accuses Obama of focusing excessively on multilateral solutions to global problems. His white paper portrays the world as being full of danger and uncertainty and emphasizes that American strength is necessary for dealing with these imminent threats. According to Romney, “if we continue with the feckless policies of the past three years”, we could be facing the following “not unrealistic” troubles: a nuclear Iran, a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamist Jihadists, a global alliance of authoritarian states led by China, and more. Romney does a spectacular job at reiterating all the worst-case scenarios and criticizing the President, but has little to offer when pressed for policy recommendations. Two wars – one currently being fought inAfghanistanand one we are trying to avoid with Iran– are illustrative of this.

The Obama administration plans to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Karzai to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan Security Forces in 2014 but leave room for some sort of U.S. involvement even after the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. Romney is categorically against negotiating with the Taliban, even if it meant a political settlement to end the fighting in Afghanistan, because “these people have declared war on us… We go anywhere they are and we kill them.” Romney insists that setting a withdrawal date has hindered military effectiveness in Afghanistan because the Taliban will be able to simply wait out the U.S. military, but with only 30% of respondents in a recent poll by Washington Post and ABC News saying the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, will Romney run for election with a plan to stay indefinitely? Will he offer any viable alternatives to the strategy set out by Obama? Waiting until the election to hear an assessment of the situation on the ground by military commanders doesn’t seem like one.

Even in relation to Iran, a topic that has been getting a lot of media attention, Romney has failed to distinguish his policy from the President’s, except in his haste for war. He reiterated that “Obama has been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran” and has even gone so far as to say that if Obama is re-elected, Iran will have nuclear weapons capability. However, Obama has already pushed for harsh sanctions and said that a military option remains on the table. It is unclear how Romney would do things differently unless his plan is to attack Iran without any tries at diplomacy.

Overall, Obama has a decent record on foreign policy issues. He has ended the Iraq war (as he promised while campaigning), restarted relations with Russia and signed the new START treaty to cut down on numbers of nuclear weapons, and approved the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Even foreign opinion of the United States has improved under his leadership. Sure, there have been failures, but the question remains, will Romney, with his alarmist and aggressive approach, do better with foreign policy as president? And who will make us safer?

There is a tendency to believe that the traditionally Republican policy views lead to greater security. After all, Republicans tend to advocate increases in defense budget, foreign relationships based on hard power, and unilateralism instead of compromising with other nations. In theory, this creates a powerful America with the ability to exercise its influence to ensure American prosperity and safety. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily hold true. The best chance for peace and security isn’t aggression and military strength but diplomacy and a considerate foreign policy. Thus far, Obama has emphasized cooperation and diplomatic solutions while Romney has articulated that America must remain on top and must act aggressively to discourage foes, a category in his view into which Russia and China fit. Whether the irresponsible tough talk on subjects like Iran and Russia is an appeal to right-wing voters or an actual indication of how a Romney administration would act is difficult to say but on national security issues so far, I’m more inclined to trust Obama.

Mitt Romney and “The Never-Ending Cold War” – More Silly Quotes!

The New York Times editorial on March 29th set forth some views that readers of this blog will not be altogether surprised at – namely that most, if not all, the GOP candidates for president are living in the far past.  But the one member that is seen to be a bit less “radical right” seems to harbor continued retro views about our current relations with the Russians.  The New York Times editorial took a pithy quote from Foreign Policy Magazine to the effect that Romney believes that Russiais America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” 

I highly recommend your reading of the full editorial but one example of its view of Romney’s Neanderthal perspective on this (and I add many other issues), is a key quote:

“His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics.”
    
I go for “just craven politics” or both!

We have noted earlier, that it is likely that narrow and partisan statements and PAC advertisements on national security issues will come up as public attention and events warrants in the game of crass politics at the expense of rational debate, examination of the realities of our landscape, and our national security.

The New York Times also puts in context the President’s statement to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in South Korea (when he said he would have more flexibility on missile defense and other issues after the election). That was a rational statement which reflected the reality of the stupidity of the current corrosive politics, where the opposition takes every opportunity to impugn President Obama’s foreign policy efforts and him for being, in fact, a wise steward of America’s national interests and goals. 

What we are also seeing is blatant bad judgment and ignorance of the importance of gaining Russia’s cooperation in dealing with a host of issues, not least the outstanding nuclear and national security issues. Obama has worked hard to make progress on these and, as the NY Times has stated, he has gained a number of key actions from the Russians which have advanced some key foreign policy U.S. objectives over the last three and a half years.  

It seems that under a Romney administration we can expect our country to start an unnecessary “cold war” all over again when there are better options of diplomacy and gaining mutual goals that serve the larger international community’s interests.

By Harry C. Blaney III.

For more quotes by the 2012 presidential candidates, please visit our quotes page!

War On Iran Is but Should NOT Be Part of Our Political “Silly Season”

SELECTED QUOTES ON IRAN: 

President Obama during a news conference: “You know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They’re 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. I’m reminded that the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle and the impact that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy. This is not a game. And there’s nothing casual about it. And, you know, when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years, it indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.”

President Obama, when asked to clarify ‘all options on the table’ in an interview: “It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA is robust in evaluating Iran’s military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that.”

Mitt Romney in a Washington Post op-ed: “If the Iranians are permitted to get the bomb, the consequences will be as uncontrollable as they are horrendous. My foreign policy plan to avert this catastrophe is plain: Either the ayatollahs will get the message, or they will learn some very painful lessons about the meaning of American resolve.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Washington, D.C.: “Look, one thing you can know and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.”

Rick Santorum in an address to AIPAC: “If Iran doesn’t get rid of nuclear facilities, we will tear down them ourselves.”

Rick Santorum in an address to AIPAC: “[Obama] has turned his back on the people of Israel. We now have an announcement today that the administration has agreed to open talks with the Iranian government, that is in spite of the UN resolutions that say they must stop the processing of their nuclear fuel in order to get those negotiations… another appeasement, another delay, another opportunity for them to go forward while we talk.”

Newt Gingrich during a Republican primary debate in Mesa: “I do believe there are moments when you preempt. If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons.”

Newt Gingrich on bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities: “Only as a last recourse and only as a step towards replacing the regime. No bombing campaign which leaves the regime in charge is going to accomplish very much in the long run. You have to seriously talk about regime replacement, not just attacking them.”
 
What is it about the Republican candidates that they must be a “war party” rather than a “peace party”?  The drum beat is incessant and mindless. They all might give lip service to some sanctions or diplomacy but their bent is towards talk of war with no conception of the costs or consequences for stability and progress in the region. 

They have no analysis to go along with their declaration of force but they do have a narrow search of votes from those citizens who are also pushing for American military forces to fight Iran before any use of weapons even starts. For whom and for what goal? At what cost? And who will reap the consequences and the wrath of the actions? 

The intelligence community has stated that Iran has not made a decision to build a bomb even as they push forward their overall nuclear capabilities. We know they must think about the consequences of using such a weapon for themselves. It would be their own deaths, the death of their regime, and large scale destruction of their society.  And further, we have not given recently intensified sanctions, which will take months to fully impact on the regime, a fair try. But wining the election seems far more important to the GOP “crazies” than American security or building a secure and peaceful region.   

The Iranian economy is already in decline. What would a bombing do to the hopes of the Arab Spring?  Or to the long-term security of Israel and the other nations of the region? None of the GOP candidates think about the second or third order consequences. How does that speak of their qualifications for the commander-in-chief?

The first Santorum quote seems to imply that war is better than trying diplomacy. I wonder frankly how much Christian that is or how much that is it “reverence for life”? Thinking of the killing of masses of people and ask about placing it on a lower ethical order as being against contraception?  The same goes for Gingrich, whose newly espoused Catholic Christianity seems along the same lines of a dual hypocrisy.

One especially interesting quote is the one that contemplates war with the replacement of the present regime. I assume that means, again, American boots on the ground and horrendous casualties to American troops that have already spent more than a decade in costly wars that seem to have no good end. 

Iran, a large and strong nation, would be least likely to be a push over. Also, a strategic strike or major war against Iran would mean tens of thousands and more likely hundreds of thousands of innocent lives of old men, women, and children killed by our efforts – the so called “collateral” damage. Would we gain the love of the Iranians who despise the present regime but see their family die at our hands needlessly?  The same people asking to go to a major war against a nation that does not pose an imminent existential threat to the U.S. are the same people who decried the idea of “nation building” earlier but were happy with a mindless war in Iraq.  Would they send their children to this war they wish to start?  

From the quotes above it is clear that President Obama is the only adult in the house. In his quote he raises the costs of a war and recognizes that the call to war only serves the cause of the Iranian regime to keep its authoritarian power. There is much to be said for a certain measure of caution and use of the least harmful tools of diplomacy first, before using the radical and dangerous war instrument that could set off uncontrolled consequences and costs.  


By Harry C. Blaney III.

For more quotes by the 2012 presidential candidates, please visit our quotes page!