Last week IPS Washington Bureau Chief Jim Lobe discussed how Barak Obama and Mitt Romney might differ with respect to Iran based on Obama’s record and Romney’s campaign thus far.
Q: How might the approach to Iran differ depending on who does end up in power at the end of the day?
Jim Lobe: I think that’s very difficult to predict. On the one hand the Obama team is quite determined to avoid any military action if at all possible and indeed we have what are described as “leaks” out of the White House this weekend covered by the New York Times indicating that Obama is for one-on-one talks with Iran. Although the White House denied that report, there seems to be a lot of buzz around it. So presumably something is going on and it seems also the Europeans are encouraging such an approach at this point and it’s something that Obama himself had promised when he ran for president 4 years ago — that he wanted to engage the Iranians directly.
Romney, on the other hand, is unlikely to do so. In fact, his campaign has strongly denounced these leaks, as has, for example, the Wall Street Journal, which is a strong supporter of Romney. As to what Romney would actually do, again, I think it’s very difficult to predict. He has a range of advisers from kind of traditional realists like Robert Zoellick, who is a former president of the World Bank, to a group of thinkers who are described best as neoconservatives, who are extremely hawkish on Iran and whose views are very close to those of Bibi Netanyahu, who would like nothing better than to somehow get the United States to attack Iran or Iran’c nuclear facilities at the very least.