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November 22, 2011

The Iran Questions the Candidates Should Have Been Answering
Posted by Kelsey Hartigan

Just when it looked like most of the GOP candidates were walking back their support for military action against Iran, Newt Gingrich stepped in and declared that he would support a bombing campaign… but only one that would take out the regime. This is actually a longer way of saying that as commander in chief, he would invade and occupy Iran.  A B-2 can do a lot of things, but it cannot guarantee regime change – such a mission would require boots on the ground.  Left unanswered was how many troops he would send to Iran, for how long and at what cost?

During tonight’s CNN national security debate, the Republican candidates for president continued their search for easy answers and quick solutions for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. Ron Paul cited a recent poll of national security insiders who unanimously agreed that the U.S. should not take unilateral military action against Iran. But this didn’t stop the other candidates from once again talking about military action as if it was a surefire way to stop Iran’s nuclear program. With the exception of Ron Paul, no candidate discussed the consequences of military action. In fact, Mitt Romney announced that there is “no price that is too expensive to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon.”  Blitz should have asked a follow-up: Are you suggesting that you would commit an endless amount of U.S. troops, allow Europe’s market to tank and let U.S. gas prices to soar? The Iraq war has cost nearly 5,000 U.S. lives and an estimated $3 trillion – can the U.S. afford another Iraq?

Not surprisingly, Herman Cain seemed confused about whether or not Israel could launch a strike against Iran. When asked if he would aid an Israeli attack, he said he would only get involved if “there were clarity of mission and purpose.”  It’s pretty clear of what that mission would look like. People like Anthony Cordesman of CSIS have publicly spelled out exactly how many F-15 and F-16s Israel would need, what payload would be best for each facility and what route the aircraft should take. But at the end of the day, the issue is not whether the United States or Israel could launch a military campaign against Iran – of course we could – the issue is whether or not we should. Is it in America’s national interest to attack Iran?  In order to answer that, the first question the candidates should have discussed was whether or not they believe a strike would actually stop Iran’s program.  Any serious expert will tell you that an attack would only delay Iran’ program, at best.  

Even with two national security debates under their belts, the candidates didn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Serious questions remain and not just on Iran. But perhaps more worrisome is the trendline that has emerged and the direction these candidates are going - because frankly, the questions aren't the problem here. 


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so many questions on Iran.

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