Obama and Romney May Talk Peace, but They’re Ready for Another War

Both candidates say they're prepared to bomb Iran. It may well come to that.

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MICHAEL REYNOLDS / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

Moderator Bob Schieffer listens to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Oct. 22, 2012.

For anyone tired of war and suspicious of overseas American adventures, Monday night’s debate was probably heartening. The tonal emphasis was entirely on prudence and peace. “We don’t want another Iraq or Afghanistan,” Mitt Romney said, later adding: “Our purpose is to make sure the world is more — is peaceful. We want a peaceful planet.” Barack Obama boasted about ending the war in Iraq and his 2014 exit date from Afghanistan. “I think we all recognize we got to do some nation building here at home,” Obama explained. Both candidates made clear that they won’t get directly involved in Syria’s civil war.

Indeed, a causal viewer might have overlooked one simple fact that overwhelms all this gentle talk: Both Obama and Romney are poised to start a new war in the Middle East as soon as next year.

(VIDEO: Time Explains: The Red Line on Iran)

We are speaking here, of course, about Iran. Last night both Romney and Obama vowed, yet again, to prevent Tehran from acquiring a The Bomb. “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” Obama declared. Said Romney: “There’s no question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran, is unacceptable to America.”

Yes, the candidates are clear, as Romney said Monday night, that military action would be a “last resort,” after all diplomatic and economic options are exhausted. (The candidates tend not to mention the quiet covert war already underway.) And yes, the current sanctions are taking a real toll, and perhaps making Tehran newly open to a deal. Let’s hope so.

But sanctions, diplomacy and covert action may very well fail to prevent Iran’s march to a nuke. Estimates of how long it would take Iran to build a bomb vary substantially, and Obama and Romney describe different “red lines” that would trigger military action. (Romney’s is a step earlier than Obama’s.) But with Benjamin Netanyahu hinting that Israel may run out of patience by next summer, America could be bombing Iranian soil before the 2013 World Series. (The U.S. isn’t tied to Israel’s timetable, but there’s a good case that if Israel is prepared to strike, America may as well join or do it for them–we’re more likely to inflict substantial damage, and will incur major blowback from an Israeli strike anyway.)

(MORE: Whether It’s Romney or Obama, U.S. Will Consider Direct Talks with Iran)

If we do attack Iran, the potential consequences are unpredictable but scary to contemplate. Hezbollah and Hamas could open war on Israel. Iran could try to close off oil shipping lanes. Either one could force an American response. This Harvard Belfer Center study of a possible Iranian closure of the Strait of Hormuz imagines that “U.S. attempts to reopen the waterway likely would escalate rapidly into sustained, large-scale air and naval operations during which Iran could impose significant economic and military costs on the United States.”

Clearly, both Romney and Obama want to give peace a chance. But they are also entirely prepared for war with Iran. And you don’t have to think an Iranian bomb is no big deal to say that, even after three prime-time debates, it doesn’t feel like they’ve adequately warned America about what that could mean.

MORE: The Election’s Real Foreign Policy Issue: War with Iran

57 comments
alison321
alison321

I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do, Fox70.com

gysgt213
gysgt213

@swamp Let's not talk about how pro-war our media is.  How uninterested in drone strikes they are except to report for the 100th time how we got the #3 guy without any verification other than the government's word.  How are uninterested they are in discussing the fact that our relationship with Israel is not exactly a healthy relationship, but one of an enabler. All the talking head shows bring on week after week Sunday after Sunday are pro-war supporters, middle of the road war supporters and never any anti-war supporters or voices.   

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Going to war with Iran would be disastrous for America on every level, not to mention that it wouldn't prevent them from getting the bomb anyway. The people howling for this war are the same idiots who supervised the worst American foreign policy in history, the New American Century signees. 

And it simply cannot be said enough that the Republicans who seem to love war the most -- Cheney, Bolton, Feith, Romney, Rumsfeld, et al -- raised heaven and earth to avoid serving themselves. They want OTHER people, and other people's CHILDREN, to do the fighting and dying. That's not only immoral, it's obscene.

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

The candidates cannot talk of another war, as that would crush their chances of being elected.........but if Iran does not do an about turn regarding their nuke program, there will be war.........and both candidates know it.......

akpat
akpat

Well I'm not sure I really know what Romney stands for he has changed so many times. Frankly I dont think he knows what he id doing and has to be told by people behind the scenes who we dont get to vote for. If these are the old GWB cronies the last thing we need is Mitt

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

Religious Republican zombies are coming out of the woodwork -- descending on America! Scary or what?Romney; would be the equivalent to the Taliban -- in his treatment of women’s rights and the gay community -- with his extreme cultist attitude … if ever elected!Religion; is the biggest bully on the block!IRS codes prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates!The IRS … should immediately tax churches -- that break that rule!Churches -- are opposing gay rights -- based on a cult! Tax them or shut them down!Roman Catholic; Baptist & Mormon churches who were involved in Proposition 8; against the gay community – should be shut down immediately and/or have their tax exemption status revoked!Church manses; mansions; corporate jets and Christian college campuses … should face taxes or be shut down -- based on corruption and/or being involved in cultism!Mormons are nothing more than homophobic bigots and lustful religious lunatics; who harvested women … attempting to scrutinize themselves; into eternity – without success!Obama should be praised for standing up for human rights … by supporting the gay community! To see the religious lunatics try to manipulate government and our lives – isshameful.Romney as President; would mean the darkest & meanest period in the United States of America’s history. Homophobic -- witchcraft would rule the government from Rome & Salt Lake City …!

AlMacAdam
AlMacAdam

i think that the way you describes what is happening with isreal threating to attack iran, it is valiolation of Machiavelli principle of not allowing smaller powers dictating a great power into a war.  a classic example of this would be, in World War One, when the invastion of serbia by Austrian empire.  the effect of this lead the russians to invade Austria and the all defence agreements between the great powers came to effect and world war one began.  the question should be  do we want a another regaional war in the middle east  the could spread further if it get to out of control.   we have a successful record with the policies of containment with that ended the cold war,  and is working here.   even if they get the bomb they can't use it because if they did us would kill every nuclear bomb they have on iran and with human nature being selfish they want to be able to live.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/24/us-usa-benghazi-emails-idUSBRE89N02C20121024

As drones flew over the Benghazi mission in Libya, nothing was done despite real time information on the ground.

Why is that? Why isn't TIME.com not in the least interested in reporting this news?

(Reuters) - Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

It is not Romnesia, but Obamemisia. An amnesia that made Obama to sleep without knowing the dangers. What has Obama done all these four years to get reelected? Economic recession, mass unemployment, total failure in foreign policy (the turmoil we see in the Middle East today) . Another major problem Obama has created for Americans is that the US federal debt is still a record high. This week it passed a milestone: the fourth straight year the deficit has passed the $1tn mark. As of today, the national debt stands at $16,066,241,407,385.80 (just over $16 trillion). When America itself is submerged in loans, Obama has announced last month its plan to transfer $450 million in cash to help Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government which is estimated somewhere between $12 billion and $23 billion. Egyptian president Morsi is already working to bolster Egyptian ties with the communist Chinese dictatorship while becoming increasingly despotic at home, and to help this jihadist would be a mistake on multiple levels. Obamanesia makes him use American taxpayers money to build mosques.While Christian churches are being destroyed on a near daily basis in Muslim countries throughout the world, the Obama administration is investing millions of dollars of American taxpayer’s money to rebuild overseas Islamic mosques and minarets. The State Department, through the US Agency for International Development, is spending millions to preserve mosques and minarets in 27 different Islamic countries. In 2010, the Obama administration provided monetary support for saving three mosques on Zanzibar Island off the coast of Tanzania,.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

The anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis would have been a good point of reference in this debate.  I have no idea what each candidate would have said, but it would have been interesting.  Too late now.  

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Charlie Pierce has a lot to say prior to this conclusion.

"There is no nation in its right mind that would put its foreign policy in thehands of the Willard Romney who showed up on stage here in Boca Raton on Mondaynight, particularly since he had so clearly abandoned everything else hebelieved on the subject for the purpose of fronting himself as a moderate inorder to run out the clock over the next three weeks. He knew nothing and saidless. But the debate will be scored as no better than a tie because, well, allthe options are too miserable to contemplate. I think if Romney had called fordrone strikes on the headquarters of the National Education Association, hemight take 47 states. Especially if he couched the raid as a deficit-reductionscheme or an attempt at education 'reform.' "

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/mitt-romney-foreign-policy-debate-14005209#ixzz2AA3BBE91

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Both were dancing around Israel, where the chat played well.  In the USA, not so much.

right-on
right-on

I just watched Michael Crowley on MSNBC with Matin.  On his remarks about Romney, he stated, "I think...."  Try FACT CHECKING"!  If you did, you'd see that Romney did indicated that the auto bailout would have resulted in a restructuring of the company without government envolvement.  AS IT SHOULD!  You did not give one FACT in your interview.  It's just what you thought.  Who cares what you think, I want to know the FACTS.  I know, it's hard for you liberals to deal with the truth.  You just took Time down to the gutter!  Shame on you!!!!

ifthethunderdontgetya
ifthethunderdontgetya

Reminds me of the good old days, when our corporate media assured us that Iraq was a deadly threat to the U.S.

You clowns have no shame, do you?

~

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I'll pick someone who's actually a leader.  Someone who changes his positions *drastically* based upon what demographic he's chasing is not leading, he's following.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Not much of a threat if you say you're not really willing to follow through on it. Part of being President is making sure that we are ready to go to war against countries that are threats to national security. 

That's not news.

The question really is who do we trust more to make a sound, smart decision about if and when we go to war. Me, I don't trust the foreign policy advisers from the Dubya years who found refuge in the Romney campaign to offer sound advice. On top of that, Romney doesn't have the expertise or good character required to lead America in a wartime capacity.

reflectionephemeral
reflectionephemeral

It's important to remember that bombing Iraq is a terrible idea, according to pretty much everyone in the US & Israeli military & intelligence communities. 

Here's why, from the Rand Corporation: "Numerous nonpartisan studies, including those from RAND, underscore the risks of the military option and its limitations in actually stopping Iran. In fact, most of these studies suggest the military option would be more likely to encourage Iran to weaponize its nuclear program, which it has not yet done."

roknsteve
roknsteve

I'm having trouble with this new system.  Finally after 5 hours the comments show up.  Where's the money for a war gonna come from?

Fire up the presses at the Fed?

anon76
anon76

Did we bomb Pakistan when they got a bomb?  Did we bomb North Korea?

I definitely disagree with Michael that this is a foregone conclusion.  I see very little will among the American people to get involved in another military conflict, especially one of the proposed magnitude with Iran which would lead to pretty severe consequences on our economy & military capabilities.  And once again unmentioned is the galvanizing effect this would have on the Iranian polity- if they were bombed you can bet that they would begin to see the bomb as the ultimate deterrent, and we'd be giving them all the reason in the  world to really want that deterrent.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

If you think that $4 / gallon gas is expensive, it will seem like the good old days if this all hits the fan.  Imagine what $10 / gallon gas would do to our economy...I would then be paying $25 / day to commute to work.

TheDonaldo
TheDonaldo

Will I get villify or demonize if I say "I agree" with Crowley's thoughts here?  The problem with Iran's bombs they will use them as they have in all of their prior actions - asymmetrically.  

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@PerryWhite1 Obviously, the neocons realize that's there's a much better living to be made lobbying for war than dying in one. And as long as they can get the Village Idiots to write and speak credulously about the idea that's there's a military option to "prevent Tehran from acquiring a The Bomb," and thereby force our leaders to make silly, bellicose pronouncements, they'll be taken seriously and paid well, no matter how stupid, immoral or obscene.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@PlumbLine That sounds like all the same talk we heard for years about North Korea.  Now everyone's gotten used to NK having a nuke capability and we've moved on.  Same will happen with Iran.  Israel will just have to get used to it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@LiberalLies2012 You idiot. What would you have them do? Bomb the building? The nearest troops were 400 miles away. And if Time is really interested in reporting something perhaps they can report how Darrel Issa committed treason by disclosing US intelligence assets in Libya, in his rush to score political points to help Mittens.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Your deception knows no bounds. Obama is the best foreign policy president since Eisenhower. He has also dug us out of the worst financial crisis since the 1930's. This crisis as well as the issues in the Middle East were caused by the same circle of Foreign Policy and Economic advisers that are now advising Romney.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@AbrahamYeshuratnam "Economic recession, mass unemployment, total failure in foreign policy (the turmoil we see in the Middle East today) . Another major problem Obama has created for Americans is that the US federal debt is still a record high."

Except that Obama didn't create any of those things, you brainwashed cretin.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@formerlyjames "<i>Too late now.</i>"

Add it to the long sad list, from global warming to global macroeconomics to the global war on drugs, and chalk it all up the continued utter failure of our fatally corrupted, corporate press.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

This article from the LA Times discusses a new book about Alan Mulally who came in to Ford and kept it out of the financial problems the other companies faced.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/15/business/la-fi-books-20120415

"Some of the masterstrokes attributed to Mulally were already underway when hejoined. His predecessors had begun steps to borrow 23.6 billion in 2006, justbefore credit markets closed."

The fact is that there were no private funds to take GM into bankruptcy and the government was the only option, apart from letting GM and Chrysler close which would have put the whole supply chain (and Ford) out of business as well.

outsider
outsider

@ifthethunderdontgetya 

I don't see Mike advocating for the war; i think he's stating that it's a possibility. 

And if you aren't scared of the results of that war, then the candidates have not expressed the seriousness of it clearly enough. 

I could be wrong, but that was how i read it. 

TyPollard
TyPollard

@roknsteve 

Republicans NEVER bring up debt and deficit when discussing our military.

TheDonaldo
TheDonaldo

@anon76 Iran is engaged in asymmetrical warfare all over the world.  Pakistan and North Korea are not, at this time.

ifthethunderdontgetya
ifthethunderdontgetya

@TheDonaldo  

We are the ones engaged in all kinds of warfare all over the world.

You are projecting, as well as eagerly consuming the M.I.C. propaganda.

~

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@TheDonaldo I actually don't believe they will. Remember that in the Iran Iraq war they were not the first to resort to chemical weapons, the Iraqis were.

TheDonaldo
TheDonaldo

I also share the same concerns about Pakistan.  Leaving and quarantining the area seems like the best option.  They are not team players.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@Ivy_B Here in Motown, I clearly remember how *aghast* the business media were at the thought of Ford putting it's venerable and historic Rouge River Assembly Plant up for collateral in order to secure the loans in 2006. Much tut-tutting and pooh-poohing about Ford's immanent demise.

Three years later, Mulally was being hailed as a genius.

Realistically, the truth is probably closer to the middle. Ford was fortunate to hit the skids earlier than its brethren...

TheDonaldo
TheDonaldo

@outsider2011 @ifthethunderdontgetya   Agreed.  But, Iran does everything asymmetrically.  That is my fear.  They will not launch ICBM, rather put the material on a pleasure craft and send it up the Hudson.

outsider
outsider

@CerebralSmartie @roknsteve

Still working out the kinks of the new system

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I also think Ford was helped a great deal by getting rid of Bill Ford and hiring Mulally. I'm a big fan of his.

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

I assume you're happy to bet the lives of American troops though?