Making the rounds is this clip of a Face the Nation interview with Mitt Romney. In it, he declares the Constitution irrelevant and argues he alone can make the decision to use military force against Iran.
Putting aside for a moment the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, just consider for a moment that the Republican nominee can now openly say that as president he can make war without the consent of Congress. That’s what passes for a campaign pledge from the Grand Old Party’s leadership in 2012.
Obama also believes in the president’s ability to make war on his own, despite laws mandating he seek the consent of Congress. But at least Obama does it in secret or by proxy. That said, the Obama administration, terrible as it is, has expended considerable political capital in staving off a US-Israeli war on Iran. Obama officials, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, have been paraded in front of Congress for months emphasizing their estimate that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so. Then Obama secretly contacted the Supreme Ayatollah through Turkey’s prime minister in a diplomatic fashion. He then released to the press the results of a Pentagon war simulation which demonstrated that war with Iran would result in the outbreak of a regional conflict which would be almost impossible to contain. The administration did this while getting hammered by the GOP candidates and the Israeli leadership.
As Pillar has written, Iran has “ample reason” to believe, “ultimately the main Western interest is in regime change.” I believe that too. But as of right now, it appears the Obama administration views the military option as too costly. Even establishmentarian voices, like Aaron David Miller, who I’ve personally witnessed saying “a unilateral attack [on Iran] would be totally discretionary. It would be a war of choice,” not of necessity. George Perkovich of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace interjected Miller’s statement for emphasis on what an unprovoked military strike actually is, saying “it would be illegal.”
Daniel Larison writes that Romney excerpts like this make it clear what kind of president he would be. “No one should have any illusions about how Romney would conduct foreign policy if he is elected,” he argues. Maybe. It’s also possible that Romney would conduct foreign policy indecipherably from Obama and is just saying this to show he is tougher and get Republicans to vote for him. Either way, watching Romney talk about foreign policy makes one thing abundantly clear: he hasn’t a clue what he is talking about.