Republican Debate – Too Much Saber Rattling

More war is not a better world for our Grandchildren.

Background

I watched the Arizona Republican Debate, 2/22/12 primarily to decide who I want to support in the Washington State Republican caucuses.  Washington State will not have a presidential primary this year as a state budget cost savings.  This is not a real loss as delegates (votes) for the Republican and Democratic National Convention are chosen at the caucuses.  Washington’s preference primaries are just beauty pageants, and maybe distractions to keep those pesky independents (like me) out of the caucuses.  So if Washington voters want a voice in choosing presidential candidates they need to attend a caucus of choice.  The Democratic caucus is of no interest, because President Obama is guaranteed.  Therefore I’ll got to the Republican caucus and voice my preference on that ticket.  I was watching the debate to decide between Santorum and Romney, but now I’m having second thoughts.

Opinion

These are my second thoughts: I heard too much saber rattling from Santorum, Romney and Gingrich.  Only Ron Paul does not sound ready to repeat the mistakes of the Iraq War by attacking Iran.  (Note: Paul is the only veteran in the group.)  Maybe this is mostly campaign rhetoric, to attempt to sound like brave leaders or differentiate them from President Obama.  However all this bold talk of denying Iran nuclear weapons sounds to me like: 1) high school boys trying to sound tough or 2) Parents nagging a child to clean up his/her room.   This only provides Iran’s leadership with “them versus us” propaganda opportunities.  Where’s the wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt, “Walk softly but carry a big stick”?   Only Congressman Paul is saying our best international strength lies in a strong economy, which would be strengthened by shrinking the defense budget and the federal deficit.

DEFENSE (?) budget.  Our military is far stronger now than we need strictly for defense.  What we have is an OFFENCE budget. Why?  [Most] Americans are not interested in conquering and controlling other countries.  That is not American culture.  History has shown us this doesn’t work in the long run, as does the recent history of the Iraq War. International negotiations are generally complex and require subtle tools.  Relying primarily on a strong military seems like using a sledge hammer for finish carpentry.  A strong internal and therefore international economy is a much more versatile tool.

Some will say that ignoring Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons will lead us down the path of Britain and France appeasing Germany in the years before WWII.   First, Iran is no Germany.  Aside from the egos of the leaders, there is no comparison.  Secondly, Iran’s leadership does not have strong support from the citizens, and most of what it has comes from pointing at foreign rhetoric, “enemies.”  This is the oldest trick in the political play book when things are internally bad. Distract the people with external enemies, real or imagined, and U.S. politicians are playing right into that.  Maybe they are playing the same cards with us.

Path Forward

Apply Roosevelt’s words.  Use the carrot and stick.  Offer the carrot publicly, “Drop development of nuclear weapons and we will help you build a strong economy.”  Show them the stick privately (denies their leaders more publicity), “You are presently not a U.S. nuclear weapons target.  These are strictly defensive weapons, and you are not presently an offensive threat to us.  However, once we believe you have nuclear weapons, then you have the capability of attacking us (e.g. clandestine bomb on a ship).  Now your largest cities and all of your known and suspected nuclear facilities become nuclear targets for us.  Should a nuclear weapon go off on U.S. or an ally’s land and we suspect Iranian origin, your country will cease to exist 30 minutes later.”  Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) has worked for over 60 years with Russia and later China, and for all their bluster I believe it would work with Iranian leadership also.

We want to give our Grandchildren a better world.  A more stable world is a better world.  Saber rattling is destabilizing.

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