Has Mitt Romney given Israel a blank check for war?
So it seemed from the declaration in Jerusalem by his adviser Dan Senor, who all but flashed Israel a green light for war, signaling the Israelis that, if you go, Mitt's got your back:
"If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision."
"No option would be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel's right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with it."
What does "stand with" Israel, if she launches a surprise attack on Iran, mean? Does it mean the United States will guide Israeli planes to their targets and provide bases on their return? Does it mean U.S. air cover while Israeli planes strike Iran?
This would make America complicit in a pre-emptive strike and a co-belligerent in the war to follow.
What Senor said comes close to being a U.S. war guarantee for Israel, while leaving the decision as to when the war begins to them.
This country has never done that before.
And what does Senor mean by Israel's need to act "to stop Iran from developing (the) capability" to acquire nuclear weapons?
The collective decision of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007 — that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon — reportedly reaffirmed in 2011 — has never been rescinded. Nor has the White House produced any hard evidence Iran is building a bomb.
Moreover, Iran's known nuclear facilities are under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Does the government know something the American people are not being told?
Undeniably, Iran, by enriching uranium to 3.5 percent, then up to 20 percent, has a greater "capability" than five years ago of building a nuclear weapon. But Japan, South Korea and Brazil also have that capability — and none has decided to build a nuclear weapon.
Gov. Romney did not go as far as Senor, but he, too, seems to be saying that not only is Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon a casus belli for the United States, even an Iran that is capable of building such a weapon is intolerable.
"The regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability," said Romney. "Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority."
Preventing what outcome is "our highest national security priority"?
Stopping Iran from building a bomb? Or stopping Iran from being able to build a bomb years from now?
The governor seems to be aligning himself with Israel's hawks who are demanding that not only must Iran swear off nuclear weapons forever, Iran must cease all enrichment of uranium, and dismantle the facilities at Natanz and Fordow.
Romney's policy is zero enrichment, said Senor. Tehran must understand that "the alternative to zero enrichment is severe, and that's why the threat of military force has to be critical."
This is tantamount to an ultimatum to Tehran: Either give up all enrichment of uranium and any right to enrich, or face war.
Here we come to the heart of the issue, which may be impossible to resolve short of war.
Unlike its neighbors Israel and Pakistan, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has no nuclear weapons. The ayatollah has said they are immoral and Iran will not acquire them.
But under the NPT, Iran claims the right to enrich uranium and seek the benefits of nuclear technology. And in that decision, the people of Iran stand behind their government.
Is denying Iran the right to enrich uranium a reason for America to plunge into its fifth war in that region in a generation?
That appears where we are headed. Reportedly, Obama's national security adviser recently briefed Bibi Netanyahu on the specifics of U.S. contingency plans to attack Iran.
Has Congress been briefed? Have the American people been consulted? Or are we simply irrelevant?
A decade ago, this country sent an army up to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam and strip Iraq of a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons we were told it had and was preparing to use.
We were misled; we were deceived; we were lied to.
Before we outsource to Bibi and Ehud Barak the decision to take us to war with a country three times the size of Iraq, we need to know:
Was the U.S. intelligence community wrong in 2007 and 2011? Is Iran hell-bent on building nuclear weapons? If so, where are they constructing and testing these weapons?
Finally, if Iran is willing to permit intrusive inspections of its actual and suspected nuclear sites, but insists on its right to enrich uranium, should we go to war to deny them that right?
But if we are going to go to war again, this time with Iran, the decision should be made in America, according to our Constitution, not by any other country.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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