Obama and Romney on Iran: What’s the Difference?
Mitt Romney, when looking for weaknesses to exploit in President Obama’s Iran policy, has often described current US policy toward the Islamic Republic as feckless. What we need, according to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is military credibility: “Only when the Ayatollahs no longer have doubts about America’s resolve will they abandon their nuclear ambitions.” When it comes to putting that oft-referenced other option on the table, we simply aren’t convincing. What would a President Romney do to reassert American military credibility vis-à-vis a country that simply refuses to bend to the will of the US and its allies? Among other things, he would “restore the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously.”
Well, while not exactly following this particular blueprint, Obama has made Romney’s job of drawing meaningful distinctions between the two candidates’ policies a little harder. There are already two aircraft carriers in and around the Gulf, and now the US has deployed further reinforcements. According to a New York Times piece that ran the week before last,
The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates.
The number of US minesweepers has doubled to eight, and additional F-22 and F-15C fighter jets have bolstered American air capabilities since last spring.
And despite talk of an “Asia Pivot,” Spencer Ackerman, for Wired’s Danger Room, reports that “over the next few years, the Navy’s biggest muscle movement will be to the Gulf, not to the Pacific.”
In order to move its traditional aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers to the Far East, the Navy’s going to put its newer kinds of surface ships in the Persian Gulf … Between now and 2017, the Navy will add nine more ships to the Gulf and northern Indian Ocean; it’ll add five to Asia.
A few of the multitudinous presidential debates sure to grace our television sets in the coming months will feature pointed questions on Iran and its nuclear program in particular. It’s going to be interesting to see how Mitt Romney distinguishes himself from his opponent. I suppose he could bring up the outrageous dearth of aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean?