TTU political science professor: Romney playing to his base on foreign policy

Posted by Lori Shull - Thursday, October 18 2012
lshull@tntech.edu

 

In an effort to appeal to the right-wing Republican base and win the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Tennessee Tech University political science professor and Middle East analyst Michael Gunter says Mitt Romney is overstating his readiness to go to war with Iran.

Already the Republican presidential candidate has stated his belief that U.S. policy toward Iran is too weak and that we should emphasize military options more to prevent Iran from going nuclear as a way to save Israel. Romney has also declared that the United States should get more involved in the current civil war raging in Syria.

Romney is taking this aggressive position in an effort to win crucial votes in the upcoming presidential election. However, the military option should only be used as a last resort, and President Barrack Obama’s sanctions are now beginning to work against Iran, according to Gunter. In recent weeks, the value of the Iranian currency has nosedived.

“Romney is painting Obama as too dovish on this and I think Romney is completely wrong. What Obama is doing is applying the screws to Iran slowly,” said Gunter, who has written a dozen books about the region. “Either Romney doesn’t understand or he’s playing to his right-wing base who always want to be aggressive.”

Unlike the young American soldiers who would go to battle in another war in the Middle East, Gunter said, these far-right ideologues will not have to die for their mistakes. The war in Iraq took more than 4,000 American lives.

“Obama has it just about right, even if he has had trouble communicating his nuanced position,” he said.

“I’m afraid that there’s a possibility Israel could start a catalytic war that would drag the United States into a war against Iran,” Gunter said. “Certainly Iran would retaliate against Israel if Israel attacked it. And once Israel is under attack, the United States would have all kinds of reasons to go in and back up Israel.”

“In other words, Israel would be making and deciding U.S. foreign policy and that would not be an intelligent position for the United States to be in,” he said. “But that’s what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing, seeking to push the U.S. into a war against Iran if Iran will not halt its nuclear weapons program. They want us to do it.”

Gunter is one of the leading American experts on the Kurdish situation and other hot-button issues in the Middle East. He is also the secretary-general of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission, a private non-governmental organization working to promote Turkish membership in the European Union as a backdoor way to solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey. He has traveled extensively in the United States, Middle East and Europe, giving talks about the Middle East to other scholars and policy makers. He has given interviews to the national and international media.

As the Oct. 22 foreign policy debate approaches, Israel and Iran are likely to take a front seat in both candidates’ rhetoric.

“I hope Romney is smart enough not to advocate attacking Iran as a tactic to try to win the U.S. presidency,” he said.