Despite a large majority of Americans claiming that the economy is the most important issue in the election, the next President will play a key role in developing the United States’ reputation abroad. While the economy is determined by a host of other factors which the President cannot affect, foreign policy is constructed nearly entirely under the President’s watch. Whether the candidates will dissect foreign policy in the upcoming debates or not, it is important to note the differences in policy between the two major candidates on foreign policy issues. I’ll be looking at their differences on Iran policy – who do you think has the edge on China, Russia, or worldwide economic issues?
Following Netanyahu’s “red line” speech at the United Nations, it is clear that military action against Iran is a possibility. Netanyahu warned that “the red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.” (Link) If Israel does target Iranian nuclear facilities, the support of the United States military will be expected. But whose policies are better designed to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities while also avoiding a new war? The noticeable difference between the candidate’s proposed Iran policies is Romney’s tougher stance. While Obama is still encouraging working at the table with Iran to diminish their ability to produce nuclear weapons, Romney advocates for an increased military presence, tougher sanctions, and a revamping of missile defense systems in the Middle East. Obama has already laid down one round of sanctions on Iran and does not believe that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are imminent enough to justify more sanctions or military action.
In terms of who is more likely to start a war with Iran, the answer is clearly Romney. He is prepared and ready to back up Israel and he would establish a heavier military presence in the Persian Gulf in preparation for a war. While Romney notes that his goals aren’t to start war, his proposals to beef up military power hardly sooth Americans into thinking war is unavoidable or even that Romney is interested in avoiding it.
On the other hand, Romney is also more likely to stop the Iranians from developing an armed nuclear weapon. His tougher policies will likely provide more encouragement to Iran to slow its uranium enrichment. Obama’s diplomatic approaches during the first four years in office have not been as successful as he hoped and continued efforts through diplomatic channels may be ineffective.
The answers to these two questions lead us to wonder whose policies will achieve the most favorable situation with Iran. Here, I think President Obama takes the victory. His argument that the threat from Iran is not imminent enough to justify immediate military buildup is valid. Obama’s diplomatic strategies still have merit so long as Iran is not within months of nuclear capability. At this point, Romney’s policies would only infuriate relationships between the United States more making military conflict inevitable.