If there was one thing Mitt Romney wanted to achieve in last night’s debate—apart from scoring a win over Barack Obama on foreign policy (he could dream)—it was to conjure up a terrifying prospect that is just around the corner and that only he can stop: nuclear Iran.
To watch Romney last night was to see a man grasping for straws. The truth is that if Romney were to be elected president, his strategy with respect to controlling a pre-nuclear Iran would not differ markedly from the Obama administration. Indeed, aside from a different rhetorical and more openly multilateral approach, Obama’s Iran strategy has mirrored George W. Bush’s position: UN resolutions and tightened economic sanctions.
Multiple times Romney returned to the “Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon” meme, not so much to establish neoconservative foreign policy bona fides, but to frighten conservatives and swing voters with propaganda. The way Romney returned to the meme again and again demonstrated the debate strategy. It was essentially the GOP’s ace-in-the-hole for the third and final debate, but instead of coming off as presidential, Romney came off as jingoistic. Then, of course, sites like Breitbart parrot Romney’s jingoistic fear-mongering, adding power to stupidity.
“The President’s statement that things are going so well, look, I look at what’s happening around the world, and I see Iran four years closer to a bomb,” said Romney at one point in the debate.
It could just be posturing for election, but with the GOP’s recent foreign policy track record under Bush, it sounds rather like Romney is beating the drums of war. Indeed, it all seems like a war-first strategy, instead of bringing the full power of the international community to bear on Iran.
Obama has proven that he is a strong and wise commander-in-chief in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and beyond; there’s no need to return to the reckless, hegemonic foreign policy of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.