One of the many annoying things in Romney’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on Iran was his abuse of the phrasesi vis pacem, para bellum.” This takes the valid principle that a lack of military readiness can invite attack and twists it into a propagandistic slogan to justify a war of aggression. Romney may say that he wants peace, and perhaps he even believes that he wants peace, but the policies he proposes necessarily lead to confrontation and conflict.

Threatening military action against Iran to delay the development of its nuclear program is not a policy that is likely to produce a peaceful outcome, because it is unlikely Iran is going to respond well to such threats, and it is very unlikely that threats are going to force Iran to do as it is told. It is an ultimatum that the other state capitulate to outside demands or face attack, and no self-respecting government could accept it. If there is going to be a war with Iran, it will most likely be because the U.S. and/or Israel starts it. That has nothing to do with peace through strength, and it has nothing to do with restoring the tranquility of order that can justify some wars. It will be a perfect example of how strength and power can be abused to simply destructive ends, and it will be an example of destroying peace unnecessarily.

Put another way, advocates of unnecessary “preventive” war desire peace only in the sense that they wish Iran to yield without offering any resistance. Otherwise, everything they are doing and saying tells us that they are intent on starting a war. Romney seems unable or unwilling to grasp that it is threats of military attack like the one he is making that makes a nuclear arsenal seem that much more attractive to the Iranian government. It is threats from Romney and other leading figures in the West that will reinforce the belief that the only way that Iran can hope to have peace and avoid future attacks is to acquire a nuclear deterrent.