Mitt Romney, the pandering chicken hawk on Iran
So this is getting seriously stupid, all the campaign-season rhetoric about Iran.
First, President Obama, speaking Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, says:
"I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power. A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.
"Iran's leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I've made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
Sounds clear and tough-guy enough, right?
Well, apparently not to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who, The Times reported from Snellville, Ga., reacted to Obama's speech this way:
"If Barack Obama is reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change," Romney told a crowd of more than a 1,000 people at a pancake breakfast that his campaign hosted in this Atlanta suburb.
When an 11-year-old boy asked the candidate how he would keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Romney said Obama had not imposed "crippling sanctions against Iran." "He's also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it's unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
"I will have those military options. I will take those crippling sanctions and put them into place," he said. "And I will speak out to the Iranian people of the peril of them becoming nuclear …. I'm not willing to allow your generation to have to worry about a threat from Iran or anyone else that nuclear material be used against Americans.”
Oh, and have some more pancakes, young fellow. I want you big and strong for when I send you off to war!
But seriously. Obama said all options were on the table -- and Romney still called him out. What is this, the second-grade playground?
C'mon, fellows, stop and think a minute. If you don't want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, does it make sense to keep bombarding it with threats of military action? I mean, I'm pretty sure they've got the picture by now.
Do you really have to make a bunch of paranoid types more paranoid? Isn't this why Israel says it fears Iran -- because it has threatened to destroy Israel?
So how do all of these threats to attack Iran make it want the bomb less?
The bottom line: This is political gamesmanship at its worst. Romney and the GOP candidates court pro-Israel votes by taking an ultra-hard line on Iran. Which forces Obama to hew to a hard line as well.
But it's a very dangerous game. It could lead to war. It could get lots of people killed.
And yes, for me, it's personal too: I have two sons.One just turned 18, at which point you are -- yes, still -- required to sign up with the Selective Service System.
Frankly, I'm getting tired of hearing pandering politicians cast about for votes by offering up the lives of other people's kids in the name of national security.
Take Romney's sons: Did he offer them up as cannon fodder? Check out this New York Times story in 2007, the last time he ran, when he was asked about whether they had served in the military:
Mr. Romney expressed appreciation for the country's "volunteer army" and said "that's the way we're going to keep it." He explained his sons had made different career choices in life and had not chosen to serve in the military, but he mentioned a niece whose husband, he said, had just been called up by the National Guard ….
But he wound up his response with this: "It's remarkable how we can show our support for our nation, and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I’d be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country."
Yes, well, Mitt, the campaign trail is a rugged place, that's for sure, especially in a Winnebago.
But ask the fathers and mothers and husbands and wives of the thousands of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan about real war.
And then, just maybe, you -- and, frankly, Obama too -- might decide to take your finger off the trigger.
And quit playing politics with the lives of American kids.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Mitt Romney speaks Sunday at a pancake breakfast at Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga., outside Atlanta. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images