Rick Santorum lost me on Iran

As Thomas noted, Rick Santorum gave a great answer on abortion in last night’s debate. And I know that Kathryn and Thomas are rooting for Santorum in tomorrow’s Iowa Straw Poll. But his continued support for challenging Iran is a deal breaker for me.

Let’s remember that every candidate on the stage in last night’s debate is pro-life. On marriage, only Ron Paul (in favor of getting government out of the marriage ‘business’) and Jon Huntsman (pro-civil unions) are objectionable, in my mind. So Catholics who care about life and marriage could select just about any of the candidates on stage if they were an Iowa voter in Ames tomorrow. You would pick Cain, Bachmann, Pawlenty or Santorum (maybe not Romney though–still don’t trust him).

But I have to say this: Rick Santorum’s answer on Iran last night was shameful.

He suggested that someone opposed to aggressive action against Iran or anyone who thought Iran wasn’t a direct threat to the United States “wasn’t seeing the world clearly.”

He specifically compared those who oppose military intervention with Barack Obama, who went around the world apologizing for America’s past actions.

“[Ron Paul] thinks that we have to go around and apologize for the fact that we’ve gone out and exerted our influence to create freedom around the world,” said Santorum.

“Exerted our influence”? It’s called war.

Maybe I heard him wrong. He can’t be saying that someone cautious after 10 years of Afghan war and 8 years of Iraq is equivalent to Sean Penn bad mouthing our country overseas?

Well, in case you missed the point, Santorum managed to squeeze the world “apologize” 3 times in just under 20 seconds.


So in Rick’s mind, you either favor military action against Iran or you are an apologist? Talk about a false dilemma. So would Pope Benedict XVI also be an ‘apologist’ in Santorum’s mind?

I’ll readily admit that at the beginning of the Iraqi War, I was a hawk. But what has surprised me is that more conservatives haven’t decided to second guess this strategy of military interventions. Conservatives recognize government’s shortcomings in shaping our own society. You would think they could appreciate the limitations of using the military to remake an entire region of the globe into flourishing democracies.

Sadly, the only person to challenge Santorum’s saber rattling was the crazy uncle Ron Paul, who will give the pure libertarian answer every time, even if it means saying yes to legalizing heroin.

This has the disastrous effect of making noninterventionalism look crazy. When in reality, invading every country is what’s crazy. Let’s put on the brakes, people.

Iowa is in the Upper Midwest. Like Minnesota and Wisconsin, Iowa is less hawkish than other parts of the country. Republicans suffered brutal electoral loses in the Midwest in 2006 and 2008 because of the Iraqi War. I had hoped that this would mean that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (who unlike Santorum won in 2006) would embrace a more modest foreign policy. (Not pacifist like Ron Paul, but not uber-hawk like Santorum.) Sadly, Pawlenty doubled down and went the Wilsonian direction of trying to make the world safe for democracy, like Bush in 2005.

I’ll give Santorum some credit. He’s a true believer. He really thinks that Iran is a big threat to the United States (I’ll grant it poses a threat to Israel, but not to us). He mentioned in the debate that he was on top of this issue many years ago.

Yeah, and where did that get us? The voters in Pennsylvania thought you were off base on Iran. So they sent you home and we all got stuck with Senator Casey.

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38 thoughts on “Rick Santorum lost me on Iran

  1. Hamed says:

    Hi
    Im an Iranian student and I just watched the video

    I found Santorum’s comments on Iran Quite laughable and yet pretty common !
    Iran and Iranians have been demonized in your media for so long that the general view on us have been completely manipulated in a caricaturized way !

  2. Bill says:

    @Greg Smith: Re: your comment on my remarks-Let’s look at them again, shall we? I referred to “..real players, the American Jews whose sine qua non is support for Israel.” An American Jew who does not support Israel would not be included in my comment, is that not correct?
    Surely you have heard of (read?) The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt. It focuses on, among others, AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee). It came out about five years ago and raised quite a few hackles. Are you familiar with J Street in?
    May I suggest you view http://www.mondoweiss.net which is posted by serious American Jews who can’t abide the Israeli occupation of Palestine.It is a very big world out here and one cannot focus on merely parochial concerns.

    1. Greg Smith says:

      @ Bill: Yes, the vast majority of Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish support the right of Israel to exist within secure borders alongside its Palestinian and Arab State neighbors. There is of course, a lot of disagreement about how to achieve that. AIPAC takes one position and J Street takes another. Regarding J Street, rather than the fringe site you linked to, readers might check out their site http//www.jstreet.org. Similarly, our Jewish newspaper, J the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, (www.jweekly.com) will give you an insight into the diversity of Jewish opinion about the Middle East. Those in the west who support not a Palestinian state *alongside* Israel, but rather a Palestinian state *instead* of Israel, do the two peoples no favors.~ Shalom~ Greg

  3. Scott W. says:

    Santorum (and Cain and Pawlenty) lost me in May when they raised their hand in support of waterboarding.

    1. Greg Smith says:

      “John McCain doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.” …~ Rick Santorum ~ That quotation says volumes about his character.

  4. GREG SMITH says:

    Dear Josh, Santorum may be an uber-hawk, but I don’t see it in the clip. Exerting our influence can describe a range of options from aid “carrots;” to diplomatic isolation; to trade sanctions; to covert action; to overt military force. There seems to be bipartisan agreement that Iran is a threat, it’s just a question of how the US ought to address that challenge given what we know at any time. As for Ron Paul, he isn’t a pacifist, but rather an isolationist. That, combined with his adherence to the social theories of Ayn Rand, to me makes him totally unacceptable as a presidential candidate. ~ Pax tucem, Greg

  5. [...] CommentsIn Wisconsin, a Rebuke to Union Wrath27 CommentsThe World According to Newsweek24 CommentsRick Santorum lost me on Iran24 Comments a.UIImageBlock_Image, a.UIImageBlock_Image:hover{ text-decoration:none; [...]

  6. Bill says:

    Now let’s move to the adult side of the discussion. Santorum is not going to win by relying on the Catholic vote. He needs a larger base.As all American candidates know they have to reach out to the real players, the American Jews whose sine qua non is support of Israel. They have the political power and money. They consider Iran an enormous threat to Israel. So, the enemy of your friend(?)is your enemy. Santorum is trolling for this support as without it he is going nowhere.

    1. Greg Smith says:

      Bill ~My wife is Jewish and works for a Jewish orginization. Believe me, the American Jewish vote isn’t as one dimensional as you portay it. ~ Greg

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