Over the weekend, Jamie Fly and Bill Kristol, two high-profile neoconservatives, wrote an article in the Weekly Standard urging President Obama to “ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran’s nuclear program.” Fly is executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative advocacy group that is a successor to the Project for the New American Century, which laid the intellectual groundwork for the US invasion of Iraq. Kristol is an FPI board member. Fellow FPI board members Eric Edelman, Robert Kagan and Dan Senor are foreign policy advisers to the Romney campaign.
Romney was asked about the Fly/Kristol article on Face the Nation on Sunday. He responded:
I can assure you if I’m President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m President, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now.
It’s worth pausing a moment to consider the magnitude of this statement. Romney is saying that he doesn’t need Congressional approval for a US attack on Iran. Notes Andrew Sullivan: “Remember that this was Cheney’s position vis-a-vis Iraq. Bush over-ruled him. Romney is to the neocon right of George W. Bush in foreign affairs.” He’s also to the right of Bill Kristol, which is no small feat.
Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, considering that Romney has chosen a team of neoconservative advisers hellbent on resurrecting the hawkish unilateralism of the early Bush years. As I reported in The Nation in May, nearly a dozen Romney advisers have urged the US to consider a military strike against Iran.
Top Romney adviser John Bolton, who many neocons hope will be secretary of state in a Romney administration, has been advocating war with Iran since 2008 and recently wrote that he wanted diplomatic talks between Iran and the international community to fail. “John’s wisdom, clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy,” Romney said when Bolton endorsed him last January. (Less hawkish members of Romney’s foreign policy team have urged a negotiated settlement with Iran along the lines the Obama administration is currently pursuing.)
One could argue that the Obama administration’s refusal to seek Congressional approval for the NATO incursion in Libya set a precedent for Romney to sidestep Congress on Iran. But the Libya mission had the support of the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council, which wouldn’t be the case with an Iran attack. And a military strike against Iran would be far more dangerous and risky than taking out the Qaddafi regime. That’s why the administration and its diplomatic partners are trying to peacefully resolve what has unnecessarily become a brewing conflict.
On Saturday, Romney once again ridiculed Obama’s Middle East policy. “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite," Romney told the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a Christian right group run by Ralph Reed. If Obama seeks peace with Iran, then Romney and his ilk want yet another war.