Schieffer asked Romney about conservative columnist William Kristol’s suggestion that Obama ought to ask Congress for authorization to use military force as a signal of his willingness to use U.S. might to stop Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.
Schieffer: “What’s your take on that?”
Romney’s initial response was political. “This president [Obama] has communicated in some respects that, well, he might even be more worried about Israel taking direct military action than he is about Iran becoming nuclear.”
He went on: “I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world.”
That was a fairly clear statement, but what he added could be one of Schieffer’s first questions Monday since it involves his view of presidential war-making powers.
Romney said, “I don’t believe at this stage . . . if I’m president, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.”
Does Romney or Obama believe he could undertake the major attack necessary to hurt Iran’s program without congressional authorization, and without agreement from the United Nations or support from NATO or a group of other allies, including some countries in the region?
U.S. participation in the surprise March 19, 2011, missile and bombing attacks on Libya was done without the specific authorization of Congress.
On March 21, 2011, Obama sent Congress a two-page letter saying that as commander in chief he had constitutional authority to authorize the military operations to prevent a humanitarian disaster. He said it would be limited in duration and noted that the U.N. Security Council had authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, and that the undertaking was done with British, French and Persian Gulf allies. Nineteen days after the strikes began, NATO took over command of the air operations from the U.S. Africa Command.
Does Obama or Romney believe that any military action against Iran would be as limited as the one in Libya? Does either believe that U.S. ground forces could be drawn into battle should Iran or its allies respond with attacks against Israel or other countries?
The president has said he would prevent Iran from “having a nuclear weapon” and has offered assurances that U.S. intelligence would be able to determine when building one had begun.
In his June “Face the Nation” appearance, Romney said he would be willing to use military force, but he did not define what that meant. Recently, he has said he would prevent Iran from having “a nuclear weapons capability,” but what does that mean?