Mitt Romney wins the prize for the biggest pander at AIPAC:
“There are some in this administration who argue that Iran’s leaders are ‘rational,’ and that we can do business with them. The President speaks of common interests,” Romney said. “Let me be clear: we do not have common interests with a terrorist regime. Their interest is in the destruction of Israel and the domination of the Middle East. It is profoundly irrational to suggest that the ayatollahs think the way we do or share our values. They do not.”
Whenever Romney talks about foreign policy, he comes across as someone who thinks he has just made some very trenchant and insightful comments that are often just willfully obtuse. This quote is a good example of that. First, he doesn’t understand what Gen. Dempsey means when he describes the Iranian government as rational. That doesn’t mean that the Iranian government has the same views and values as ours. That’s just painfully stupid. Ascribing rationality to the Iranian government means that our government believes it seeks its own goals and weighs costs and benefits accordingly as any self-interested political actor does. Romney’s description of Iran’s interests is misleading, since the regime’s main interest is self-preservation, which takes precedence over any other ideological or rhetorical commitment. Because the Iranian government is interested above all in self-preservation, it is not going to act so provocatively or recklessly that it endangers its own survival, which creates the opportunity for finding some sort of modus vivendi that avoids armed conflict. Of course, Romney doesn’t seem very interested in avoiding armed conflict with Iran, so it suits him to portray the Iranian government as an unhinged adversary.