Capitol Showdown: Which presidential candidate would better handle a potential nuclear crisis in Iran?
With respect to foreign policy, this election is a contest between two different archetypes. When President Obama was running for president in 2008, he promised two things. First he promised to end the war in Iraq. Second, he promised to refocus our operations back on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He accomplished both of these goals to devastating effect. In December, the final US Combat troops left Iraq. There has not been a single American death in Iraq since November. Two states to the east, in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda’s leadership is on the run. If you need any more proof about how effective Obama’s policy had been towards our enemies, simply ask Osama Bin Laden.
Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy bears striking resemblance to that of George Bush. 17 out of his 24 advisers on foreign affairs are former Bush administration officials. Like Bush, Mitt Romney criticized both of Obama’s most successful foreign policies. He thinks we should not have ended the war in Iraq. He also is on record saying we should not have “moved heaven and earth” to get Bin Laden. If he were the president, we would have achieved neither of these objectives, as we failed to do for six years under the last Republican President.
This brings me to Iran. Even Mitt Romney noted in the last debate that the most recent round of economic sanctions on Iran is working. They are the most devastating sanctions ever imposed on Iran. As a result, Iran’s state oil revenues have plummeted and their currency is in free fall. Because the Iranian economy is losing so much ground, they are more willing to negotiate away their nuclear endeavor. President Obama made those sanctions happen and has brought Iran back into the table.
If a long time into the future, Iran goes fully nuclear, President Obama has the right credentials to deal with the situation. To deal with any international crisis, we need friends. Our last Republican President did a great job losing such friends, but Obama has brought them back. If the world picked the president, it would be a landslide for that very reason. President Obama understands the role of our military. He understands that it is more important to have cyber warriors stationed back at home to deal with modern threats, than more ships in the Persian Gulf or nuclear missiles aimed at the Warsaw Pact.
What Romney does not understand is that the nature of international conflict has changed. When he said in the debate that it was a travesty that we have fewer naval vessels than we did in 1917, it showed that he does not get that more obsolete equipment is a worse investment than cutting-edge aircraft carriers. Romney’s approach to foreign policy would be laughable if it were not so serious.
Matt Sanford, College Democrats of Towson
The greatest thing about foreign policy and this election is the fact that Obama and Romney have many similarities. During the last presidential debate, people around the world could finally hear the words, “I agree Mr. President.” In the last presidential debate on foreign policy, Romney explained why the Islamic Republic remains America’s greatest nuclear threat. The Green Revolution in Iran is not being talked about enough by Obama. The Green Revolution reform calls for economic opportunity, social mobility, basic freedoms, social justice, participation in politics, etc. Romney also said how he would attempt to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability, but Obama would prevent a breakout of Iranian weapons development. Does anyone see a major difference here? – exactly. Both men have different ways of achieving the same goal: preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons.
Matter of fact, Romney may attack Obama for not having a credible military threat against Iran over its nuclear program, but Romney still doesn’t want to threaten specific action right now. Also, Romney believes that the US should not negotiate with the Taliban. It is difficult for the US to negotiate with a group that has a completely different culture and idea of freedom and peace. People in Iran see the US as invaders of state sovereignty. The idea of state sovereignty is being invaded and not able to be justified when there is not a clear and evident threat to the U.S. But doesn’t Romney have a Cold War mindset? The truth of the matter is that Romney and Obama have the same mindset. Look, foreign policy is not a conservative or liberal matter – leave that to the economy. Foreign policy needs to be moderate for the president to truly represent the people in his negotiations with other nation states.
Also, Romney wants to speed up extreme sanctions that will decimate Iran’s unstable economy. Haven’t we seen this already with Obama? Obama has been imposing sanctions on Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Romney says that Obama’s sanctions have gone into effect too late, but isn’t Romney going to be imposing his sanctions late as well, especially since Obama’s have already gone into effect? The similarities between the two candidates are so evident that it frightens them. Both candidates are trying to nit-pick each other in order to make it seem like America should vote for one candidate over the other based on foreign policy. If you want to vote on a candidate for its feelings and decisions about Iran, don’t expect to be able to choose one candidate over the other on concrete facts. A wise speech teacher, Professor Eric Sundell, once told me everyone needs to have a “crap detector” – essentially a filter that filters out all the nonsense that leads to the facts of the matter. So here it is, both presidents essentially have the same goal in mind with Iran, but achieve it in their own way.
Rachel Eldringhoff, Towson College Republicans
Assuming the wording “nuclear crisis” in this question means “Iran having a nuclear weapon,” both “major” candidates have essentially the same exact view. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson presents the only real choice on the issue.
Starting with incumbent President Obama, he has stated that he indeed would use military force to dismantle a nuclear Iran. He said he would only act in the event of Iran threatening America or its interests. The repercussions of this view are twofold.
Firstly Obama says this, but at present, Iran is not a true threat to American security. If this is so, why then does his administration continually allow an aggressive policy of economic sanctions, which are crippling the Iranian economy and hurting civilians? Sanctions are an act of pre-war, though Iran has not shown threatening tendencies to the United States.
Second, this viewpoint ignores the logic by which Iran would want a nuclear weapon and its motives. If Iran is indeed pursuing a nuclear weapon, it is doing so to compete with its enemy, Israel who has nuclear capability. Iran would seek a nuke in order to puff out its chest to its enemies. This is not unlike Saddam Hussein’s actions regarding Iran before the Iraq War. This does not imply Iran would be so irrational as to use it. Countries like Pakistan and North Korea, who are also deemed radical are nuclear capable. Is it worth a war to enter into those countries and dismantle their programs as well? We must ask ourselves these common sense questions if we are to survive as a nation.
Governor Mitt Romney’s response to the question of a nuclear Iran is similar to Obama’s. The major difference is that Romney has stated specifically that it’s worth passing crippling sanctions which target civilians as well as supporting rebels in Iran to help overthrow the government. This hawkish approach should be avoided at all costs, with Libya as the example. The US supported Libyan rebels and achieved the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, but it has massively destabilized the state and has created a haven for extremists like Al Qaeda. Should we really artificially create a power vacuum in Iran over the possibility that one nuke could be engineered?
The flip side of these aggressive policies is that of Gary Johnson. Although he understands that Israel is our dear ally and should be given support in the event of a military intervention, it should not be done militarily. Israel should fight their own war, as Iran is not a threat to the United States. It is not worth spending the resources on another supposed “preventive” war which will bog us down in the region another ten years.
Both “major” candidates should revise their hawkish positions and endorse a foreign policy of common sense like Gary Johnson if they want to make peace in the Middle East. Direct military threats should be dealt with militarily, but potential political threats should not be met with so-called preventive war.
Kyle Prescott, Towson Libertarians