Maureen Dowd / The warmongers get busy

Sure, let's return to the Bush doctrine of bomb first, think later
March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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Oh, Barack.

You want to analyze the cost and consequences of war before you go to war?

Such a snob. Such a green eyeshade rejection of the red-hot Bush doctrine.

What's wrong with bomb first and think later? That worked fine in Iraq. Or not.

Mitt Romney believes bombing Iran would be a cakewalk, even though his foreign affairs experience amounts to making sure skiers had a nice downhill run at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

"If Barack Obama is re-elected," Mr. Romney robotically swaggered in Georgia, "Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change if that's the case."

That apocalyptic answer came in response to a question from an 11-year-old boy at a pancake breakfast. Mr. Romney is channeling Dick Cheney, who wooed voters in 2004 with the cheery mantra that voting for John Kerry would lead to a terrorist attack. Message: You die.

Speaking by satellite to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C., Mr. Romney outpandered himself.

"I will station multiple aircraft carriers and warships at Iran's door," he said as if he were playing Risk. Not afraid to employ "military might" (or alarming alliteration), Mr. Romney wrote a blank check to Bibi Netanyahu, who governs a nation roiling with reactionary strains, ultra-Orthodox attacks on women and girls and attempts at gender segregation, and increasing global intolerance of the 45-year Palestinian occupation.

As New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote, Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters too often "consider the tenets of liberal democracy to be negotiable in a game of coalition politics."

Nonetheless, Mr. Romney promised that "Israel will know that America stands at its side in all conditions and in all consequence." We will support Israel when its survival is threatened. But we can't possibly support every single military action of every single Israeli government.

Mr. Romney crudely painted Mr. Obama as an Arab sympathizer. "As president, my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo or Riyadh or Ankara," he said. "It will be to Jerusalem."

The Israeli fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon must be respected, not least because the regime intent on developing this weapon is the world's greatest center of Holocaust denial. And the timing is tricky. As Bill Kristol put it, Mr. Obama's urge to wait "would precisely undermine Israel's ability to determine her fate."

But I'd feel better if our partner was not the trigger-happy Mr. Netanyahu, who makes hysterical arguments even in the absence of a dire threat. At AIPAC, he compared those who want to be less hasty than he does to America's refusal to bomb Auschwitz in 1944.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:07:46

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