Frum goes another few rounds arguing that Romney would be less hawkish than Obama. David's first argument is that "Iran confrontation is not driven by Sheldon Adelson, or by Israel, or by some Israel Lobby." I didn't say the Iran confrontation was driven by Adelson. But it sure is a major reason he has bankrolled the candidates. But the idea that AIPAC – and the entire Greater Israel lobby – is not chomping at the bit to invade and bomb Iran is surreal. They live for it.
And the Christianist base has been whipped into a frenzy about the evil and mighty threat of Iran. Would Romney – after all this rhetoric – be able to allow Iran to enrich uranium past Netanyahu's red line (which has already been crossed)? Obama's in a tough enough spot, potentially cornered into war by his own statements. But Romney has said there will be "no daylight" between Israel and America if he becomes president. And we know what Romney's old buddy, Netanyahu, wants.
David's second argument:
If elected … here's the briefing Romney will face:
He'll be told that Iranian nuclear sites are hardened and distributed. He'll be told that a bombing campaign will have to be intense and sustained. He'll be briefed on the risks of Iranian retaliation, and he will be offered a menu of options to pre-empt such retaliation. The menu will include such measures as attacks on Iranian Revolutionary Guard barracks and facilities. He'll be warned that by striking at the regime's repressive apparatus, he'll be risking a breakdown in regime control. In such a case, steps will have to be taken to secure Iran's existing nuclear materials, steps that could range all the way up to deployment of peacekeeping forces – that last a very large-scale undertaking.
When he gets this briefing, Romney will think, "Iraq." He'll think, "There goes all the rest of my agenda." He'll think, "I'll need cross-party support, which means I'll need to make concessions to Democrats on their domestic issues. Goodbye tax cut. Goodbye entitlements reform." He'll think, "Oil prices will rise, and possibly interest rates too, choking off economic recovery."
No, he won't. He'll just talk about a new "axis of evil," if David will pardon the impression, and make sure his invasion is meticulously planned. And David seems to think Romney wants to cut defense spending. No, he doesn't. What's that money for if not another neocon war? He adds:
Romney will have no escape from the realization: an Iran strike bets his presidency and at least postpones and probably voids his domestic agenda. It's not impossible he'll still say yes. It's just deeply implausible.
My view: romney is a weak man who believes reflexively in an-always aggressive America. And he will do what his neocon advisers tell him. At the very least we can say this. The choice is between a president who will clearly do all he can to avoid war and a candidate who has already effectively pledged to do whatever Israel's right-wing asks.
Earlier debate here.
(Photos: Adelson and Cheney from Getty.)