Mitt Romney Is Not Convincing Me

Mitt Romney outlines his plan for dealing with Iran.

Mitt Romney has an op-ed in the Washington Post outlining how his approach to dealing with Iran would differ from President Obama’s. After some exposition, he asserts:

The overall rubric of my foreign policy will be the same as Ronald Reagan’s: namely, “peace through strength.” Like Reagan, I have put forward a comprehensive plan to rebuild American might and equip our soldiers with the weapons they need to prevail in any conflict. By increasing our annual naval shipbuilding rate from nine to 15, I intend to restore our position so that our Navy is an unchallengeable power on the high seas. Just as Reagan sought to defend the United States from Soviet weapons with his Strategic Defense Initiative, I will press forward with ballistic missile defense systems to ensure that Iranian and North Korean missiles cannot threaten us or our allies.

As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute. I will demonstrate our commitment to the world by making Jerusalem the destination of my first foreign trip.

Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution.

My plan includes restoring the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. It also includes increasing military assistance to Israel and improved coordination with all of our allies in the area.

Here are his proposals into bullet form:

  • Restoring our Navy’s position as an unchallengeable power on the high seas. Is that position in doubt? Just as an example, we have eleven aircraft carriers currently in service. The total number of aircraft carriers of all other countries in the world is ten. Will piling Ossa on Pelion meaningfully strengthen the Navy’s position?
  • Ever-tightening sanctions. That has been the policy of the Obama Administration so, apparently, a Romney Administration would provide continuity in this area.
  • Speaking out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and supporting Iranian dissidents. I agree with Gov. Romney that the Obama Administration could have done more in this area. I don’t think it’s completely clear that the U. S.’s supporting Iranian dissidents would actually further the cause of liberalization there. If the U. S. is to support Iranian dissidents, it would probably best be done covertly. Either the Obama Administration is not currently supporting Iranian dissidents or its covert support is effective in remaining covert. We just don’t know.
  • Making America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival clear. I think that is what the president was attempting to do in his address to the AIPAC meeting this weekend and in his public statements to Israeli PM Netenyahu. I’m not sure what else could be done short of attacking Iran.
  • Demonstrating that commitment by making Jerusalem his first overseas visit on being elected. I think that the Arab world and Iran already sees the U. S. and Israel as joined at the hip. Israeli PM Netenyahu said as much in his public remarks yesterday.
  • Buttressing diplomacy with a military option. Again, I think this is what President Obama has been trying to make clear for the last week or so.
  • Restoring the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. It is my understanding that we presently have three carrier groups in the Gulf. I am not enough of a naval strategist to comment on whether positioning a carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean, too, would be an improvement or not.

In summary, Mr. Romney wants to build more ships, spending more money on the military, engage in some symbolic behavior, and otherwise continue the policies of the Obama Administration. As I’ve said before, I vote for president largely based on foreign policy. In aggregate would the measures that Gov. Romney is proposing alter the Iranian regime’s calculus in any meaningful way? I don’t see it. Whether Gov. Romney is trying to distinguish himself from the president or reassure me of the continuity between his administration and the Obama Administration, he’s not convincing me.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I don’t see it. Whether Gov. Romney is trying to distinguish himself from the president or reassure me of the continuity between his administration and the Obama Administration, he’s not convincing me.

    I see it Dave, and Mitt has me quite convinced that he is an empty suit.

  2. I think you can go even shorter: “I will bluster.”

    And of course hope that “the evil regime of the ayatollahs” do not read his plan ahead of time.

  3. Tillman says:

    In aggregate would the measures that Gov. Romney is proposing alter the Iranian regime’s calculus in any meaningful way?

    If he followed them through, it would probably spur them into producing atomic weapons even quicker.

  4. Hey Norm says:

    “…Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution…”

    Really? Threatening Iran with

    “ruin”

    will lead to peace? Exactly how? And exactly how will Romney accomplish this so-called “ruin”? Are we discussing cataclysmic military action? Are we going to drop a nuke on them with no actual proof of a weapons program? Did these idiots learn nothing from Iraq?
    Romney leads off with the obligatory paean to Reagan, but ignores the fact that Reagan had little to do with the resolution of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The death of the Shah and Iraq’s invasion of Iran effectively brought that to a conclusion. Reagan then began providing arms to the Iranians. Reagan is hardly the place to look for inspiration in dealing with Iran.
    The Romney says that Obama is the most feckless President since Carter? Seriously? Bush attacked Iraq after he allowed 9.11 to happen on his watch…and then failed to get OBL. That’s pretty damn feckless if you ask me. Ask OBL and Quadaffi and al-Awlaki if Obama is feckless.
    This empty rhetoric from someone who desires to be taken seriously as Commander-in-Chief is at the least counter-productive…and if given a chance at implementation…downright scary.

  5. Franklin says:

    This doesn’t really mesh well with what I remember from the CNN debate. It was three loons ready to bomb Iran tomorrow, and then Ron Paul. Like Tillman said, if any of those three looks like they’ll win the general election, Iran’s likely move would be to redouble their efforts. Heck, they may already be doing so based on the rhetoric.

  6. Not convincing me, either. Indeed, no one is convincing me that military confrontation with Iran is a good idea.

  7. Hey Norm says:

    @ Franklin…
    A quick Off-Topic aside regarding the McCain thread from yesterday.
    I didn’t say McCain deserved to be tortured. He was tortured because he was a shitty pilot, crashed, and got himself caught.
    The fact that he then voted against banning torture reserves a special place in hell for him, if you ask me. Ultimately someone at a higher pay grade will make that decision.

  8. James Joyner says:

    As Bill Clinton and others have noted, campaigning is about emphasizing distinctions. In this case, the distinctions are, at best, about style rather than substance. Thankfully, the Bush Administration and the Obama administration have had tremendous continuity on Iran: saber rattling about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, diligent diplomatic efforts–including sanctions regimes–to prevent it from happening, and a resignation to the fact that there are no good military options. Romney seems to be on board with that but, not being in the chair and having to persuade people that he’d be an improvement over the guy now sitting in it, emphasizing the first and deemphasizing the last.

  9. Hey Norm says:

    @ James…
    Well…except that Bush43 actually strengthened Iran’s position in the region by attacking Iraq. And Obama has managed to unite the International Community and impose pretty crippling sanctions on Iran.
    Yeah…other than that they’ve been consistent.

  10. Moosebreath says:

    Dave,

    “I think that is what the president was attempting to do in his address to the AIPAC meeting this weekend and in his public statements to Israeli PM Netenyahu. I’m not sure what else could be done short of attacking Iran.”

    Clearly you are not listening to what the President’s critics are saying. Obama has been at Israel’s throat by not requiring the US military to follow whatever orders Netanyahu gives.

  11. anjin-san says:

    rebuild American might

    We have what, doubled defense spending in this century? Aside from Romney’s dream of rebuilding the Great White Fleet, what exactly needs to be done? Is he staying up nights worrying about the phantom menace from China?

    Our country’s infrastructure is crumbling, the middle class is in decline, the dream of a great education for one’s children is slipping away and we can’t provide adequate health care for millions of our own – yet this guy is focused on making the wet dreams of defense contractors come true.

  12. Andy says:

    Dave,

    There are two carriers in the middle-east presently, not three. Sometimes there will be three temporarily when one battlegroup relieves another.

    The current roster of carriers allows the US to keep two on deployment almost continuously. So it’s interesting that Romney wants to “restore” the presences of an east med group in addition to one for the Persian Gulf. I think he needs to read a bit more history on why we used to have one in the med (hint to Romney, it had nothing to do with Israel).

    To me this is just another example of Romney as a quintessential boomer narcissist who is whose positions and values bend like a reed in the wind. Can anyone really say for certain what kind of President he would be? I sure can’t.

  13. merl says:

    @Hey Norm: But if water boarding isn’t torture, then Crash McCain wasn’t tortured, right? I don’t understand why everyone considers McCain to be a war hero in the first place. Getting shot down and captured isn’t heroic. The Vietnamese did us a favor by keeping him out of our planes.

  14. Franklin says:

    @Hey Norm: I saw your response, and I concur that you didn’t intend to sound like he deserved torture. I still think you (and now merl here) are a bit out-of-line in insulting his service and/or pilot skills simply because he made maybe a couple mistakes while risking his life. (And don’t bring up that 5-plane nonsense.)

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I never thought Norm meant to imply McCain deserved torture.

    Here’s why McCain was a hero. He put on a uniform and went into harm’s way in service to the United States. He resisted torture to the limits of his ability. He refused a propaganda-driven offer of early release. He still suffers from his injuries.

    I don’t think that makes him the greatest man who ever lived, but it’s enough that he gets to walk around with that big ‘H’ on his brow. It is sure as hell more than I’ve ever done.

  16. Why should we build more carriers when the carrier air wings that are on the carriers we have aren’t at full-strength?

    Wait, probably because Boeing doesn’t care about a couple extra planes but Northrop Grumman sure as heck cares about building another aircraft carrier.

  17. Hurling Dervish says:

    @Hey Norm: That, and Bush openly campaigned in support of Ahmedinejad’s opponent the first time around. Naturally, this had the effect of rallying support toward the infamous Israel-hater.

    At least this time around, Obama had the brains not to openly support the protesters in Iran, despite the screams from the right. If he had done so, the protesters could be painted as tools of the US, just as was done in Libya and Syria.

  18. TastyBits says:

    Mitt Romney

    … By increasing our annual naval shipbuilding rate from nine to 15, …

    @Dave Schuler

    … Mr. Romney wants to build more ships, …

    I think he wants to speed up the existing 5, 10, and 30 year plans, and using his increase (9 to 15) would take 3, 6, and 18 years to complete the Navy plans. I took a quick look, and it looks like we are adding about 11 ships a year not 9.

    “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”