Home/Daniel Larison/Romney’s Nonsense on Iran

Romney’s Nonsense on Iran

Dave Lawrence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mitt Romney makes a lot of unsupported assertions in his op-ed on the nuclear deal, but this is probably the most ridiculous:

If these ayatollahs have nuclear weapons, they will use them, someday, somewhere.

Romney’s op-ed is a useful reminder that the alternative in 2012 was to elect a candidate who was remarkably ill-informed and whose foreign policy judgment was exceptionally poor. The op-ed is also a reminder of the shoddy, half-baked foreign policy arguments that Romney made as a candidate, which reflected the generally bad advice he was getting at the time. Just take this one claim by itself. Romney is sure that Iran’s government would use nuclear weapons sooner or later, but he offers no reason why anyone should hold this belief. He presumably subscribes to the unfounded, discredited idea that Iran is a “martyr-state” that is willing to destroy itself to usher in the end times. This is a falsehood that Iran hawks have promoted for the last decade. It is simply made up. Whether he genuinely believes this or not, Romney argues like an ideologue. He asserts many things that he ought to be trying to prove as though they were incontrovertible. He is certain that Iran’s government is “suicidal” and “apocalypse-seeking” when their behavior over the last thirty-six years suggests that they are anything but this.

A “suicidal” government would not have made peace with Iraq in the ’80s, nor would it have entered into negotiations in which it agreed to scale back its nuclear program as it has done. An “apocalypse-seeking” government wouldn’t cooperate with its major ideological foe against other enemies as Iran has done, and it wouldn’t accept a compromise on the nuclear issue in which it makes most of the concessions. This is what a government interested in its own self-preservation does. Romney has nothing to say about this sort of Iranian government because it does fit his nonsensical ideological framing of the issue. If he doesn’t understand some of the most basic things about the government with which the U.S. is dealing, why should anyone think that he has a clue about the rest of the relevant issues?

Romney’s complaints about the nuclear deal are reminiscent of his railing against New START five years ago. Just as he is sure that this deal represents “caving” to Iran, he was certain that the arms reduction treaty was a big giveaway to Russia. He was laughably wrong then, and he is wrong now. Romney always attacks these agreements in these terms, and his technical arguments are always garbage. As ever, no one should trust anything he says. We should remember instead that a Romney administration would have committed the U.S. to a belligerent and confrontational policy with Iran that would have made any diplomatic agreement impossible. Romney has every incentive to cast doubt on the success of diplomatic engagement that he would have refused to attempt if he had been elected.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles