Romney Misrepresents Obama’s Iran Record, Calls For ‘Credible Military Threat’ That Already Exists

Reposted by arrangement with Think Progress

In an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacked President Obama’s foreign policy record. Obama’s “failures internationally will have perhaps even longer- lasting implications for America and the world than even his failures domestically,” said Romney. Pressed by O’Reilly to name specific failures, Romney brought up Iran’s nuclear program, which he called “probably the greatest threat to the security of the world.”

“[T]he president had an opportunity to really put pressure on Iran,” said Romney. “Had he gotten Russia to agree to impose tough, crippling sanctions on Iran, we could have put a lot more pressure on Iran.”

In June 2010, Russia voted for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposed a fourth round of sanctions — the toughest yet — on Iran because of it’s failure to comply with earlier resolutions demanding an end to nuclear enrichment. In May, a U.N. experts panel on the sanctions concluded that the new measures “are constraining Iran’s procurement of items related to prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile activity and thus slowing development of these programs.”

Romney then discussed what he would do about Iran:

O’REILLY: What would you very specifically do?

ROMNEY: Well, several years ago I spoke at the Herzliya conference in Tel Aviv and laid out seven steps. I’ll try and be brief. But No. 1 was making sure that we put in place crippling sanctions.

No. 2 was communicating on the ground in Iran what the cost means to them of becoming a nuclear nation. They would be in a circle of suspects if either nuclear device were being tested or to be applied anywhere in the world. Number — I’ll get to the last one. No. 7 is you have to have a credible military threat. … You have to have credible options that Iran has to know that, if they pursue nuclear folly, that there is the potential that there will be an effort on the part of the United States to remove that threat. […]

[Obama] hasn’t put together the kind of military credibility in terms of planning or communications that would suggest to them that it’s anything but a hollow threat.

Watch the whole exchange:

It’s true that Russia and China blocked more harsh economic sanctions in the Security Council, but the U.S. continued to impose strict economic and human rights sanctions on companies and individuals, which the administration continues to augment with a long string of executive orders. These sanctions are extraterritorial, meaning that international companies and individuals working with Iranian sanctioned companies and individuals can be punished by the U.S.

What’s more, as far as military “planning,” Obama has pledged to keep all options all the table. At his confirmation hearing before the Senate to be Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta said such planning was actually going on: “In line with the president’s statement that we should keep all options on the table, that would obviously require appropriate planning.”

And that doesn’t even begin to account for the covert actions taken by the U.S. to thwart the Iranian nuclear program. What we know — that the U.S. and Israel worked together to develop and deploy the Stuxnet computer virus that crippled Iran’s nuclear centrifuges — is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

The Obama administration, in other words, is doing exactly the things Romney says it is not. As for the public bluster about all of it, Iranian dissidents have praised Obama for setting that rhetoric aside, crediting the move with creating the political space that allowed for the rise of the Green opposition movement. One wonders what the Green Movement might think of Romney, whose foreign policy adviser has advocated for the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a group considered terrorists by the U.S. and hated by the the Greens.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. If you don’t look to closely, the Mittster seems like a reasonable, rational alternative to Moonbeam Perry. But as this piece highlights, he’s also dangerous (or perhaps just an uber-panderer). He could win the election if he gets the nomination, but I think the Republicans will self-immolate and nominate Perry.

  2. If only running for pres caused Perry to have to renounce his governor’s post

  3. Romney’s ‘get tough with Iran’ rhetoric is not to win American voters but to please his Israeli masters! Iran is not the threat to the world’s security. Iran has not tried to invade and conquer another nation since it became an Islamic republic in 1979. Israel and the United States, on the the hand, are constantly attacking and invading and bombing other nations.

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