Mitt Romney and his campaign foreign policy advisers have had a hard time trying to differentiate the presumptive GOP nominee’s Iran policy from President Obama’s. But at the same time, they’ve been offering clues that a President Romney would lean more toward the military option in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.
An anonymous Romney foreign policy adviser recently reinforced that view, telling the National Journal in an article published today that there isn’t much discussion among Romney’s team about diplomacy with Iran:
Meanwhile, however, the Israelis — who are engaged in their own intense debate about whether to strike — hear a cacophony of voices in the Romney camp. “We’ve got a very big tent. You’ve got a lot of different voices,” concedes another Romney adviser. “The debate isn’t ‘Gee, can we live with an Iranian nuclear weapon,’ it’s how you structure a response.” Even so, with Romney playing to his conservative base, “there hasn’t been a big conversation of how much would he put back into a diplomatic effort” with Iran, the first adviser says.
And if there hasn’t been much talk about diplomacy with Iran inside the campaign, there certainly hasn’t been any discussion outside of it either. Instead, the Romney campaign regularly accuses Obama of not sufficiently threatening military action against Iran (despite the fact that the president ordered a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and often says no option is off the table).
Romney’s advisers are also ratcheting up the war rhetoric — whether it’s lowering the threshold for war, downplaying the effects of sanctions or criticizing discussion of the consequences of an attack. Indeed, one top Romney adviser even cheered for diplomacy to fail.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is aware, not only of the threat an Iranian nuclear weapon poses, but also the potential negative consequences of a military attack on Iran. And that, coupled with U.N., U.S. and Israeli assessments that Iran has not yet decided on whether to build a nuclear weapon, leads the administration to pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran, a track the it deems the “best and most permanent way” to solve the nuclear crisis.