Romney: Obama should tell Iran military option not on table, but in our hand (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Natasha Mozgovaya 02/23/12)
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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney slammed the approach of
U.S. President Barack Obama vis a vis Iran on Wednesday, saying he
should have communicated that a military option is not only on the
table, but "in our hand."
Speaking at the Republican Debate in Arizona, Romney said Obama, who
has tightened sanctions against Iran several times including a recent
target on its central bank, could have imposed "crippling sanctions"
on Iran, but chose not to.
"Every communication we´ve had so far is that he does not want Israel
to take action; that he opposes military action. This is a president
who should have, instead, communicated to Iran that we are prepared,
that we are considering military options; they´re not just on the
table, they are in our hand."
Romney warned of the danger a nuclear Iran would pose in light of its
proxies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could give fissile
material to Hezbollah and Hamas, who, in turn, could bring it into
Latin America and potentially across the border into the United
States to let off dirty bombs or more sophisticated bombs, said
Joining Romney at the Republican Debate on Wednesday were the three
other remaining GOP candidates, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron
Paul. The event marked the final debate before Arizona and Michigan
vote on February 28, and before Super Tuesday, when ten states will
vote on March 6.
Fellow Republican Newt Gingrich referred to a comment made by
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey,
who described Iran as a "rational actor" in an interview with CNN on
Sunday. Gingrich said he could not imagine why Dempsey described Iran
as "rational". "The fact is," said Gingrich, "this is a dictator,
Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn´t believe the Holocaust existed.
This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the
face of the Earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the
United States out of the Middle East. I´m inclined to believe
dictators. I think that it´s dangerous not to."
Gingrich added that he would support a pre-emptive strike if an
Israeli prime minister, "haunted by the history of the Holocaust",
were to call him and say, "I believe in the defense of my
country." "If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and
you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you
have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people
by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons," said Ginrich.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum said Obama was not doing enough
with regards to a Iran, and reminded Americans of his bill at the
Senate that encouraged sanctioning Iran´s nuclear program, which "our
intelligence community said didn´t exist and that the president of
the United States, President Bush, opposed me for two years."
Rep. Ron Paul was the voice of dissent on the topic, arguing that not
even Israel claims Iran has a nuclear weapon. "I think what we´re
doing is encouraging them to have a weapon, because they feel
threatened. If you look at a map of Iran, we have 45 bases around
their country, plus our submarines. The Iranians can´t possibly
attack anybody. And we´re worrying about the possibility of one
nuclear weapon. If you want to worry about nuclear weapons, worry
about the nuclear weapons that were left over from the Soviet Union.
They´re still floating around. "
When the topic of expanding women´s roles in the military came up,
the Republican candidates turned it into an opportunity to slam Obama.
Romney said Obama´s decisions regarding the U.S. military
were "seriously awry." "This is a president who is shrinking our
Navy, shrinking our Air Force, wants to shrink our active-duty
personnel, is cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion
dollars. The world is more dangerous, it is not safer," he said,
pointing at Syria, the Arab Spring which "has become the Arab
winter," Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico, North Korea´s nuclear
development and Pakistan´s nuclear weapons.
"The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add
aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active- duty
personnel and to strengthen America´s military," he said.
Gingrich questioned what defines today´s war. "Anybody serving our
country in uniform virtually anywhere in the world could be in danger
at virtually any minute", he said. "The truck driver can get blown up
by a bomb as readily as the infantryman. We live in an age when we
have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own
cities," he said, adding that all Americans are at more risk now than
ever in U.S. history.
Paul said he does not want to see any American men and women at
war. "What I fear is the draft coming back, because we´re getting way
overly involved. The wars we fight aren´t defensive war; they´re
On the possibility of intervention in Syria, Senator Rick Santorum
said "Syria is a puppet state of Iran. They are a threat not just to
Israel, but they have been a complete destabilizing force within
Lebanon, which is another problem for Israel, and Hezbollah."
Romney said that amid all the bad news coming from the Middle East, a
troubled Syrian regime is one piece of good news. "The key ally of
Iran, Syria, has a leader that´s in real trouble. And we ought to
grab a hold of that like it´s the best thing we´ve ever seen," said
Romney, adding that the U.S. needs to work with the Alwaites, the
ethnic group of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to show them they have
a future without Assad. In addition, said Romney, the U.S. needs to
work with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to support the Syrian rebels
with weaponry. "If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we
finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back. And we can, at
that point, with crippling sanctions and a very clear statement that
military action is an action that will be taken if they pursue
nuclear weaponry. That can change the course of world history." (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 02/23/12)
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