Jeffrey Goldberg revisits an earlier bad argument he made about the likelihood of war with Iran under Romney:

Romney, on the other hand, isn’t the warmonger the Obama camp makes him out to be.

Goldberg’s evidence for this claim is that Romney hasn’t ruled out a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, which is hardly any evidence at all. By the standard Goldberg is using, George W. Bush wasn’t a warmonger, either. After all, Bush went through the motions of going before the U.N., and claimed not to want war in 2002-03, but we know that all of that was meaningless. Romney’s demand that Iran halt all enrichment is a non-starter in Tehran. Among other things, giving in to that demand would be very unpopular in Iran. There is no reason to expect that Romney would be able to deliver a diplomatic solution when he is setting conditions for an agreement that the Iranian government won’t and likely can’t accept.

When supporters of preventive war claim to be interested in a diplomatic solution, what they typically mean is that they are willing to go through the motions in order to claim that diplomacy has been tried and wasn’t successful. Not only does Romney have a lower threshold for military action against Iran, but his idea of a diplomatic solution is an unrealistic one that is virtually guaranteed to fail. When someone makes excessive demands of another state that the other state cannot realistically accept without suffering an enormous political backlash at home and international humiliation, that person is not actually interested in a diplomatic solution. At best, he doesn’t understand that his demands are making war more likely, and at worst he is looking for a pretext for confrontation and conflict.

Reza Marashi made the obvious but important point earlier this month:

For over a decade, the GOP has made it clear that it does not want a negotiated peace with Iran.

When Romney says that he favors a diplomatic solution, what he means is that he prefers an outcome in which Iran yields to all U.S. demands. That isn’t going to happen. Romney’s interest in diplomacy has always seemed perfunctory, and he has typically characterized any and all attempts at diplomatic engagement as appeasement, so it’s very hard to take seriously the idea that he would take the necessary political risks that pursuing a diplomatic solution requires. He gives the public no reason to believe that he would be able to reach a negotiated deal with the Iranian regime. Indeed, his party is filled with people who assume that such a deal isn’t possible and probably wouldn’t be desirable even if it were.