Romnesia, Foreign Policy Edition

In the 24 hours before the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney’s Romnesia has apparently spread to his national security positions. He’s tried to backpedal on his bluster, his pledge to arbitrarily increase defense spending by $2 trillion without saying how he’d pay for it, and his criticism of the President’s commitment to getting our troops home. But this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to hide his true – and extreme – positions from the American people.

Here are the facts:

TODAY: Romney Adviser Dan Senor On Afghanistan: Romney Has Said “And He'll Say It Again Tonight, We Need Diplomatic Solution To The Iranian Nuclear Crisis.” ROBINSON: “Doesn't he have to be careful here? I mean, this could be a delicate and perhaps productive moment - perhaps not - in the relations -- relationship between the US and Iran, and in our efforts on the Iranian nuclear program. Doesn't Romney have to walk very carefully in terms of what he says about…” SENOR: “That's always the case. That’s always the case. I mean, the Iranian government and the administration both said this ‘New York Times’ story is not accurate. So I'm not sure he has to respond to a story that both governments involved have said is not true. That said, if you listen to what he said, and he'll say it again tonight, we need diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. It's gotten really bad.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 10/22/12] 

ROMNEY HAS ISSUED VOLATILE RHETORIC ON IRAN THREATENING “IF YOU WANT PEACE, PREPARE FOR WAR”

Romney To Iran: “If You Want Peace, Prepare For War.” “The United States needs a very different policy. Si vis pacem, para bellum. That is a Latin phrase, but the ayatollahs will have no trouble understanding its meaning from a Romney administration: If you want peace, prepare for war.” [Mitt Romney Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal, 11/10/11]

Romney Said He Would Be “Just As Ready To Engage Our Military Might” On Behalf Of Israel As He Is Ready To Engage In Diplomacy. Romney: “As President, I will be ready to engage in diplomacy. But I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that America stands at its side, in all conditions and in all consequence.” [Romney Speech, AIPAC, 3/6/12]

Romney When Asked If He Supported A “First Strike” Against Iran Either By Israel Or U.S.: “Yes.Host: “Do you support a first strike against them, either by Israel or by us or a combination of the two to halt that process?” Romney: “Yes, and I think you actually have to act before they had a weapon, a deliverable weapon. They have to understand that we will take military, kinetic action if they continue to pursue a nuclear option. That is unacceptable to us. That is unacceptable to Israel. It's unacceptable to the world.” [Rick and Bubba Show, XM Radio, 3/9/12]

  • Romney On Taking A First Strike Against Iran: “Yes, And I Think You Actually Have To Act Before They Had A Weapon, A Deliverable Weapon.” [Rick and Bubba Show, XM Radio, 3/9/12]

Romney Declined To Say What Kind Of Military Strike He Would Order To Stop Iran From Acquiring A Nuclear Weapon But Did Say “Of Course” He Was Prepared To Act Unilaterally. “BAIER: Would you be prepared to do it unilaterally if need be? ROMNEY: Of course.” [Special Report With Bret Baier, Fox News, 11/29/11]

Romney Said He Was “Being Pretty Serious” About The Idea Of Military Action Against Iran. “Mr. Obama accused the GOP field of taking the idea of war with Iran too casually. ‘I think all of us are being pretty serious,’ Mr. Romney said in his news conference.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/7/12; Romney Press Availability, 3/6/12]

Romney: “We Should Always Make Sure That They Recognize That To The United States Of America, Iran Becoming Nuclear Is Unacceptable, And We Have Options On The Table, But They’re Not Just On The Table But In Our Hands.” [Romney-Ryan Town Hall, Manchester, NH, 8/20/12]

ROMNEY OFTEN WARNS THAT IRAN IS CLOSE VERY CLOSE TO NUCLEAR CAPABILITY

Romney: “Iran Today Has Never Been Closer To A Nuclear Weapons Capability.”  [Romney Foreign Policy Address  to the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA, 10/8/12]

Romney: “If Barack Obama Gets Reelected Iran Will Have A Nuclear Weapon.” [Romney Event, Snellville, GA, 3/4/12]

Romney: “If We Re-Elect Barack Obama, Iran Will Have A Nuclear Weapon. And If You Elect Mitt Romney, Iran Will Not Have A Nuclear Weapon.” [CBS/National Journal Debate, 11/12/11]

Romney: “Our Tiring Over Conflicts” In Iraq And Afghanistan “Cannot Blind Us To The Realities Of A Nuclear Iran” – “There’s No Question About It Becoming A Nuclear Iran… They Announced It Themselves.” Romney: “Now, I’m afraid you’re right, Sean. And that’s why this is not just a time for the president to be thinking about this from a campaign standpoint, this is something which has to concentrate the thinking of our leaders and our people. We have been involved in two very long and very difficult conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan but our tiring over those conflicts, cannot blind us to the realities of a nuclear Iran. And there’s no question about it becoming a nuclear Iran. This is not something where our intelligence sources have to tell us that they have nuclear material on the make. They announced it themselves. They show us their progress. This is something we understand. We must not shrink from the reality that, that not an acceptable conclusion.” [Hannity Radio, 3/5/12]

 

Romney Said That “We Are Reaching That Point” Where Iran Has A Nuclear Weapon And Is “So Close They Can’t Be Persuaded To Pull Back.” Lauer: “You used a Latin phrase in writing about this a few months ago when talking about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I’ll use the English translation. You said if you want peace, prepare for war. Do you think there is a window of opportunity though, governor, that is closing fast, that within a certain number of months, not years, Iran will have reached a point where a preemptive strike, a precision strike will no longer derail their ability to make a nuclear weapon?” Romney: “Oh, I think you're right. I think there comes a point at which they have a nuclear weapon, for instance. Or they are so close that they can't be persuaded to pull back. We are reaching that point. And intelligence officers are --” [Today Show, NBC, 2/1/12]

Romney: “Frankly, Iran Is Developing Nuclear Fuel… I Can’t Help But Believe And Recognize That Iran Is Rushing Headlong To Develop The Kind Of Fissile Material That Will Threaten Humanity.” [Hannity Radio, 2/28/12]

Romney: “Iran, Of Course, Is Rushing Towards Nuclearization With No Indication Of Any Slowdown In Sight.” [RNC Meeting of State Party Chairs, Scottsdale, AZ, 4/20/12]

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TODAY: ROMNEY HAS TRIED TO BACK AWAY FROM HIS $2 TRILLION IN PROPOSED DEFENSE SPENDING…

Headline: “Romney Camp Blurs $2 Trillion Defense Spending Goal.” [Talking Points Memo, 10/22/12]

Talking Points Memo: The Romney Campaign Is Obscuring A Clearly Defined Policy Proposal, Which Serves As The Basis For Democratic Claims That Romney Wants To Spend $2 Trillion Additional Dollars On Defense Spending Over The Next 10 Years.”  [Talking Points Memo, 10/22/12]

  • Romney Adviser: “The Goal Of” Increasing Defense Spending To “4 Percent Of GDP… Is Not Going To Be Achieved Overnight Or Perhaps Even By The End Of The First Term.” “Mitt Romney’s pledge to spend at least 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product on the military isn’t an immediate goal or even one he is sure to meet in a first term as president, according to a defense adviser. ‘The goal of 4 percent of GDP remains and is unchanged,’ Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller who advises Romney, said in an e-mail. “But that goal is not going to be achieved overnight or perhaps even by the end of the first term.’” [Bloomberg, 10/22/12]

…BUT INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS SHOWS HIS PLAN TO RAISE DEFENSE SPENDING TO 4% OF GDP, WHICH ROMNEY SAID IS “ESSENTIAL TO KEEPING AMERICAN SAFE,” WOULD REQUIRE A $2 TRILLION INCREASE

Romney Defense Plan: “Reverse Obama-Era Defense Spending Cuts With The Goal Of Setting A Core Defense Spending Floor Of 4% Of GDP.” [Defense Fact Sheet, Romney For President, 7/24/12]

  • Romney: Raising Defense Spending To 4% Of GDP Is “Essential To Keep America Safe.” Romney: “I’m, I think I’m the only guy suggesting that we should raise our Defense budget to 4% of our total GDP, which is about one-fifth of federal spending. For me, that’s essential to keep America safe.” [Hugh Hewitt Show, 11/18/11]

Talking Points Memo: “Analysts Say That Even If Romney Ramps Up The Pentagon’s Base Budget Slowly, Such That It Only Reaches 4 Percent Late Into His Presidency Or Even At The End Of His Second Term, Romney’s Target Is Still In Effect A Pledge To Spend Nearly $2 Trillion More Than Obama Has Proposed.” [Talking Points Memo, 10/22/12]

  • Center For A New American Security’s Travis Sharp: Romney’s Plan, Compared To Current Pentagon Budget, Would Lead To A $2.1 Trillion Increase In Spending Over The Next Ten Years, Assuming A Gradual Increase To 4% Of GDP. [CNN, 5/10/12]
  • Center For Strategic And Budgetary Assessments’ Todd Harrison: If The Defense Budget Gradually Increased To 4 Percent Of GDP Over Four Years, It Would Result In $2 Trillion In Additional Spending Over A Decade. [Defense News, 6/17/12]
  • Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: Romney Would Increase Defense Spending To $7.8 Trillion Over A Decade, Compared To $5.7 Trillion Under The Ryan Plan – Which Is Already Higher Than The Budget Control Act’s Levels. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/24/12]
  • Cato Institute’s Christopher Preble: Romney Calls For “$2 Trillion In Military Spending Over The Next Decade.” [Christopher Preble, Cato Institute, 9/24/12]

Defense Industry Analyst Byron Callan: Romney’s Refusal To Admit The Cost Of His Defense Spending Increase “Is Confusing The Defense Industry” And If He Disagrees With Analysts Who Have Estimated It Would Cost $2 Trillion He Should “Come Up With A Different Number.” “Mitt Romney’s pledge to spend at least 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product on the military isn’t an immediate goal or even one he is sure to meet in a first term as president, according to a defense adviser. ‘The goal of 4 percent of GDP remains and is unchanged,’ Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller who advises Romney, said in an e-mail. ‘But that goal is not going to be achieved overnight or perhaps even by the end of the first term.’ The comments only add to the uncertainty about how much a President Romney might add to the Pentagon’s budget and when, what the additional spending would buy other than more warships and how he’d propose to pay for what analysts say may be as much as $2 trillion in added spending while also whittling down the federal deficit as he’s promised… Compounding the uncertainty over sequestration, the absence of a clear plan for how Romney would increase defense spending ‘is confusing the defense industry and others,’ Byron Callan, a defense industry analyst in Washington with Capital Alpha Partners LLC, said an interview. ‘It’s peculiar why they can’t agree’ with the $2 trillion estimate ‘or come up with a different number,’ Callan said.” [Bloomberg, 10/22/12]

***

 

TODAY: Romney Adviser Dan Senor On Afghanistan: Romney “Supports The 2014 Transition. He’s Been Very Clear About That. He’s Stood With President Obama On That… I Don't Think There's Real Daylight Between Governor Romney And President Obama On That Particular Issue.” SENOR: Let me say, this is extremely important. Governor Romney knows many families who have been directly affected by this war and the Iraq war. He himself has 18 grandchildren. I mean, he's obviously very worried about the future of these wars and how long they go on and how they affect our country and our young people. He supports the 2014 transition. He’s been very clear about that. He’s stood with President Obama on that. He's had some criticisms along the way in terms of negotiations with the Taliban, the withdrawal of troops during the fighting season on the surge. But on the 2014 transition, he has said we need to get our troops home as safely and responsibly as possible in 2014. And I don't think there's real daylight between Governor Romney and President Obama on that particular issue.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 10/22/12] 

 

ROMNEY HAS ATTACKED PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PLAN TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN SAYING HIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS HIS “BIGGEST MISTAKE” AND “WRONG”

 

Romney Said Announcing Plans To Withdrawal From Afghanistan Was The President’s “Biggest Mistake.” Romney: “I think the biggest mistakes he’s made in Afghanistan were one, announcing the specific date we would withdraw.” [WXYT (Detroit, MI), 2/28/12]

 

Romney: “This President Has Done An Extraordinary Thing. He Announced The Date Of Our Withdrawal… That Was Wrong.”  [South Carolina Republican Primary Debate, 1/16/12]

 

Romney Attacked President Obama’s Remarks On Withdrawal In Afghanistan Saying “We Shouldn’t Adhere To An Arbitrary Timetable On The Withdrawal Of Our Troops From Afghanistan.” Mitt Romney issued the following response to President Barack Obama’s remarks on Afghanistan tonight: “We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn’t adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America’s brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead.” [Press Release, Romney For President, 6/22/11]

 

Romney Criticized President Obama’s Announcement Of A Troop Withdrawal Timeline In Afghanistan Saying “The Taliban May Not Have Watches, But They Do Have Calendars.” “Romney praised the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, but criticized President Obama’s announcement of when troops will withdraw. ‘The Taliban may not have watches, but they do have calendars,’ Romney said.” [Boston Globe, 6/3/11]

 

ROMNEY AVOIDS COMMITTING TO A POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN BY SUGGESTING HE WOULD DEFER TO GUIDANCE FROM THE COMMANDERS ON THE GROUND

 

Fox: “Speaking On Afghanistan, Romney Left The Door Open To Keeping American Troops There Beyond 2014, When The Transition To Afghan Security Forces Should Be Complete.” [Fox, KDVR, 10/8/12]

 

Romney: “Withdrawal Of U.S. Forces From Afghanistan Under A Romney Administration Will Be Based On Conditions On The Ground As Assessed By Our Military Commanders.” [Issues: Afghanistan & Pakistan, Romney For President, accessed 9/10/12]

 

Romney On Withdrawal From Afghanistan: “I Will Evaluate Conditions On The Ground And Weigh The Best Advice Of Our Military Commanders.” “But the route to war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.  I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.” [Romney Foreign Policy Address, Lexington VA, 10/8/12]

 

Romney Criticism Of The Drawdown Of The Iraq And Afghanistan Wars “Hasn’t Extended Far Beyond Saying He Would Have Differed By Heeding The Wishes Of Commanders On The Ground.” “He’s offered boilerplate opposition to the president’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the popular uprisings in Libya and Syria. … Romney’s criticism of the drawdown of the wars hasn’t extended far beyond saying he would have differed by heeding the wishes of commanders on the ground. And even a number of Republicans acknowledge significant popular fatigue for the two wars, even within the GOP.” [First Read, NBC, 3/29/12]

 

Romney Would Leave Generals In Afghanistan To Guide The Pullout Schedule Rather Than The President. “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are disagreeing on how quickly to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Romney said at a Republican presidential debate Monday that generals in Afghanistan should guide the pullout schedule based to conditions on the ground. He said the troops should come home as soon as possible under those conditions. Paul said the president must tell generals what to do.” [Washington Post, 6/13/11]

 

Romney Was Asked If He’d Keep Troops In Afghanistan Past 2014 And Said: “We Recognize The Circumstances May Change On The Ground Either For The Better Or For The Worse” And “I Don't Think You Set Hard And Fast Deadlines Without Recognizing That There Is The Potential For Conditions To Change.” Muir: “Ok, wanted to confirm for the audience. If those commanders on the ground in Afghanistan tell you that we need US troops to stay longer would you keep them there beyond that 2014?” Romney: “I don't want to go into hypotheticals but we recognize the circumstances may change on the ground either for the better or for the worse. I don't think you set hard and fast deadlines without recognizing that there is the potential for conditions to change.” Muir: “You are open to it depending on what the commanders might tell you?” Romney: “I will consider the council if I'm president I would consider the input of the commanders on the ground as an important element in the plans for our military.” [Romney Interview w/ David Muir, ABC News, Israel, 7/29/12]