Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told a Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) audience last week that “nothing focuses [Iranian] minds more than suffering from sanctions and seeing a military option.” But yesterday, in a Fox News interview, Romney made clear that if president, he would have employed that military option when the U.S. spy drone crashed in Iran and even suggested he’d order Americans into Iran to retrieve it:
ROMNEY: Absolutely take it out. He was extraordinarily weak and timid in a critical moment. This will have severe implications for us, long term. And it was a terrible mistake on his part. I find it incomprehensible that he didn’t destroy it or go get it. I think destroying it would have been a good deal easier. Destroy it immediately or go get it. But the idea of letting it fall into the hands of people who will use it against us, use the intelligence capacity against us is an enormous mistake on the part of the president.
Romney isn’t alone in his calls for an airstrike to destroy the drone. Earlier this week, former Vice President Dick Cheney said the “right response” would have been to order a “quick airstrike” to destroy the drone.
But Romney is the first GOP voice to actually endorse an incursion into Iran to retrieve the drone. Romney glosses over the potential repercussions of a U.S. airstrike or raid on Iranian territory. Furthermore, the George W. Bush administration, with Cheney as Vice President, faced an even more confrontational situation when, on April 1, 2001, a mid-air collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. Navy intelligence aircraft forced the U.S. plane to make an emergency landing on China’s Hainan Island. The Bush administration resolved the crisis by issuing an apology.
Both Romney and Cheney are eager to criticize the White House for any perceived concessions to Iran but neither have criticized the Bush administration for its handling of a similar incident or acknowledged that a “quick airstrike” or committing military force to “go get it” could be seen as dangerously provocative policy decisions.