Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gridlock Without the Courtesy of Disagreement

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article entitled, "Candidates Hammer Obama Over Iran, but Approaches Differ Little."  The gist was that, despite bellicose language by Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich on the campaign trail condemning Obama's approach to the Iranian nuclear weapons issue, these candidates' own proposals differ little, if at all.

While how best to deal with Iran and its nuclear program is undoubtedly an issue on which reasonable minds can, and likely will, differ, the GOP candidates' rhetoric is shameful for two reasons.  First, given the utter catastrophe that would surely follow from a war with Iran (whether that war is necessary or not), I am personally unconvinced that these men truly believe that a military solution is the appropriate one at this stage.  If that is the case, their war cries constitute the most egregious example to date in the 2012 election process of the manipulation of an incredibly serious issue for political gain.  Though such tactics are not new to politics, one would think that the prospect of igniting World War III would be given a bit more deference, even from the likes of desperate men like the GOP hopefuls.

Second, and more importantly for the discussion of gridlock in America, the disconnect between the rhetoric alleging Obama's weakness and the actual proposals of the Republican candidates demonstrate that gridlock can arise even when both sides are in perfect agreement on the substantive issues.  According to the article, "Romney says he would conduct naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to remind Iran of American military might. He would try to ratchet up Security Council sanctions on Iran, targeting its Revolutionary Guards, and the country’s central bank and other financial institutions. And if Russia and China do not go along, he says, the United States should team up with other willing governments to put such punitive measures in place."

This is exactly what Obama has already proposed and done.  Nevertheless, Romney says that, “If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.” 

This sweeping and unsupported language only makes it more difficult for the United States to act as it needs to act in light of the situation.  Even if Obama is willing to use force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, what advantage is there to coercing him into stating it publicly?  Iran and Israel have both used so-called "strategic ambiguity" to great effect.  Shouldn't the United States be able to take this position as well? 

Again, if Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich truly believe that force is the only answer, so be it.  But, in the current situation, they are making sweeping statements about the need for war when, from all appearances, their own proposed policies do not even back up their rhetoric.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the problem of rhetoric masking--probably intentionally so--the major agreement on substantive policies. I'd question whether this is unique to the Iran situation. That may be the most recent example, but its not the first, nor does it seem to be the biggest. The Republicans did the same thing with healthcare by transforming the individual mandate from a Republican proposal into a demonic left-wing socialist takeover of your entire life. And, while the GOP stance on the use of force in Iran has the potential to evoke catastrophic responses, the candidates will likely be more circumspect as time goes on--the eventual nominee will tone it down and then if a Republican wins he'll tone it down even more. So Iran does seem to be all smoke. But healthcare, and other areas where this happens frequently, have a real and lasting impact. It affects people here and now. And I completely agree, it is something that should be very much lamented