(by Stephen Dinan, WashingtonTimes.com) – The top Republican presidential candidates yesterday repeatedly threatened attacks on Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons, drawing lines between themselves and the Democratic candidates on what’s likely to be the major foreign-policy issue of the next presidency.
Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said the U.S. should enter negotiations only after letting enemies know that America is prepared to attack and said Iran must know attacks are possible. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney went further, saying Iran must know attacks are imminent.
“Iran has to understand that not only is the military on the table, it is in our hand,” he said, adding that the point is to let the rogue nation know that “this is not just some far-flung idea that we might act militarily, but instead we are poised and ready to act.”
They and the other top Republicans assured the 250 Jewish Republicans gathered in a hotel ballroom in Washington that they will defend Israel, and they criticized the ongoing Middle East peace process for finding moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, terrorists and other rogue nations.
“We really can’t in any way accommodate any effort which would reduce Israel’s security, and the thousand-plus rockets that have been launched from the Gaza Strip show that the best of intentions can result in something far less positive than is often anticipated,” Mr. Romney said.
Former Democratic Rep. Tom Andrews, who now runs Win Without War, an organization opposed to the war in Iraq, said Republicans’ tough talk is a mistake.
“Look at where saber-rattling and pre-emptive attacks have gotten us in Iraq,” he said. “We don’t need another reckless war. If we are genuinely worried about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, we should engage in real talks.”
The Democratic field has been reluctant to take a hard line on Iran. Sen. Barack Obama has said he would enter into no-preconditions negotiations with the nation’s president, and former Sen. John Edwards said the U.S. should be reluctant to attack Iran.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken stances that appear to put her on both sides of the question, but in a new article in Foreign Affairs magazine, she leans toward the firmer side, saying that “all options must remain on the table” if Iran doesn’t comply with international obligations.
Mr. Obama has defended his negotiations stance by pointing to President Reagan’s negotiations with Soviet leaders during the Cold War. But Mr. Giuliani yesterday said the senator from Illinois misunderstands history.
“I say this most respectfully – you’re not Ronald Reagan,” he said. “Here’s what Ronald Reagan did before he negotiated with the communists: First, he called them the ‘Evil Empire.’ Then he took missiles … he put them in European cities, and he pointed the missiles at Russian cities with names on them. And then he said, in his very nice way, ‘Let’s negotiate,’ ”
Sen. John McCain said some straight talk is also needed today with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It’s time we got a little tough,” Mr. McCain said, taking a swipe at President Bush, who has invited the Russian leader, a former Soviet spy, to his Crawford, Texas, ranch and said he had looked into Mr. Putin’s eye, taken his measure and found him to be trustworthy.
“I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters – a ‘K,’ a ‘G’ and a ‘B,’ ” Mr. McCain said, adding, “I don’t think I’d invite him to Sedona.”
Sen. Sam Brownback, another Republican presidential candidate, won cheers for rejecting Mr. Bush’s current peace “road map” policy for the Middle East, saying the region has veered “significantly off it.”
In his speech, former Sen. Fred Thompson said radical Islam poses a challenge to moderate Muslims as well.
“We need the active involvement of moderate Muslims and religious leaders to wrest back their faith, and indeed their peoples, from this cult of death,” he said.
But the audience belonged to Mr. Giuliani, who won strong applause when he retold the story of having tossed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat out of a United Nations’ concert in New York.
“I didn’t hesitate like Hillary Clinton hesitates to answer questions on what she’s going to do about Iran. I didn’t seek to negotiate with him, like Barack Obama would do or says he’d do with these people,” he said.
“I just made a decision. See, I lead. That’s what a leader is about.”
Copyright 2007 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.
1. What is likely to be the major foreign-policy issue of the next presidency?
2. In speeches to the Republican Jewish Coalition yesterday, how did the following Republican presidential candidates say they would address the issue of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons?
a) Rudy Giuliani
b) Mitt Romney
3. On what policy did all of the Republican candidates agree regarding Israel?
4. How do the Democratic presidential candidates differ from the Republicans on the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program?
5. In his speech, how did Rudy Giuliani address Barak Obama’s defense of his negotiations stance by saying that President Reagan negotiated with Soviet leaders during the Cold War?
6. Read the “Background on Iran’s Nuclear Program” below.
a) Do you think that the Democrats or the Republicans have a better policy for addressing Iran’s nuclear program? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.
ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM:
Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran insists that its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs. Under the United Nation’s NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except those that had weapons when the treaty was signed). The U.S. succeeded in getting the UN’s IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council with the hope that if Iran does not stop their work, the Security Council would impose sanctions on Iran and cause them to comply with the NPT. The Security Council gave Iran until August 31, 2006 to end their uranium enrichment or face sanctions. Iran refused. The Security Council in December 2006 unanimously approved a resolution ordering all countries to ban the supply of specific materials and technology that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Iran would ignore the decision and continue to pursue its enrichment activities. “The Iranian nation has not delegated its destiny to the invalid decisions of the UN Security Council and won’t do so [in the future],” it said. Iran continues its nuclear program today. Iran has threatened on numerous occasions to destroy Isael and has threatened “death to America” as well. Iranian President Ahmadinejad, a devout Muslim, prays for the return of the missing 12th Imam, and believes that he will return when some type of apocalyptic event occurs. It is thought that President Ahmadinejad believes a nuclear war could hasten the 12th Imam’s return.
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