Top foreign policy aid to Mitt Romney Dan Senor today continued the Romney campaign’s increasingly difficult task of trying to differentiate its foreign policy from President Obama’s. When asked what Romney would do differently from Obama on Iran, Senor first mentioned a speech Romney gave on Iran five years ago and then boiled the difference down to more sanctions and some abstract notion of getting “serious about military action”:
SENOR: So to answer your question, one he’s for tougher sanctions, two, he is for projecting to the Iranians that the threat of military action is credible. It is not to say to we should use military force or that the Israelis should use military force but it is important that the Iranians believe that it is serious. No one in the world believes today that the U.S. is serious about military action and if no one else believes it it’s hard to believe that the Iranians believe it.
Watch the clip:
Of course, because Iran with a nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, the Obama administration has declared numerous times that the military option is on the table. And Senor must have missed reports this morning that the U.S. is building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf to check Iran. It appears that the problem for Senor is that the Obama administration has also been very open about the consequences of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities — which is something war supporters seem to want to ignore.
And on the sanctions front, “[f]ew countries have experienced such intense external pressure” as Iran is currently facing. And it’s unclear what “tougher sanctions” Romney would put in place because Senor never offered any specifics.
But this isn’t the first time one of Romney’s advisers has had trouble providing an alternative to Obama’s Iran policy. Last month Richard Williamson said a “President Romney will seek a negotiated settlement” to the Iranian nuclear stand-off, which incidentally the Obama administration also considers the “best and most permanent way” to end the crisis.
KATY KAY: The Romney campaign has been very critical of this president in his handling of Iran but I’m not entirely clear what Romney could or would do differently when it comes to Iran.
SENOR: Well I would say two things. If you look at a speech governor Romney gave in 2007 at the Herzliya conference, which is the big security conference in Israel, he laid out a pretty ambitious sanctions agenda, both economic sanctions and diplomatic sanctions, that he was advocating for the U.S. government to impose on the Iranians, which was far more comprehensive than the sanctions we have today. Don’t get me wrong, the sanctions that are in place today are important and they’re doing damage. But Gov. Romney would say that they’re not comprehensive enough. And he was arguing for this four or five years ago. In fact he was to the right of the Bush administration … on the importance of putting in sweeping sanctions. So while the sanctions now are having some effect, he raises questions about whether it’s too late, that the president did drag his feet the first couple years of his administration, didn’t implement these very tough sanctions Congress was pushing. So to answer your question, one he’s for tougher sanctions, two, he is for projecting to the Iranians that the threat of military action is credible. It is not to say to we should use military force or that the Israelis should use military force but it is important that the Iranians believe that it is serious. No one in the world believes today that the U.S. is serious about military action and if no one else believes it it’s hard to believe that the Iranians believe it. If you look to the extent to which administration officials over the last couple of years have gone out of their way to say in public … that if the Israelis took military action it would be a disaster for the global economy. They wouldn’t be able to meet their objectives and it would provoke all sorts of reactions that would be dangerous. That sends a message to the Iranians that the U.S. will do anything and everything possible to prevent military action.