Romney rebuts Obama’s rebuttals



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Mitt Romney’s campaign has released a six-point rebuttal of the Obama campaign’s rebuttals of attacks on the president’s Israel policy. (The whole thing is below the jump.)

Working off a different document, The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, picks apart Romney points one and three, that the president has been reluctant to sanction and isolate Iran.

Kessler makes a point that I’ve raised repeatedly: The tensions between Obama and Congress on sanctions have more to do with ancient legislative-executive branch turf wars than with Obama’s Iran posture, which has been much more aggressive than his predecessor’s. Kessler writes:

If Romney becomes president, he will discover that this diplomatic stuff is much harder than it looks. And he will absolutely hate it when Congress tries to get involved in foreign policy issues.

Both of these statements are true for every president.  It was ever thus.

He scores Romney two Pinocchios:

Romney’s critique of Obama’s handling of Iran is missing important context, even by the standards of campaign fare. Sanctions on Iran have become robust and Tehran is more internationally isolated since Obama took office, in part with the help of Congress, even if the ultimate goal of ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions has not yet been achieved. Meanwhile, the military option is a grave choice — one that Obama’s predecessor never seriously considered.

On the Romney document’s other points, see here on how the administration offers evidence it has increased missile defense, not cut it back; and the talks to AIPAC last week by President Obama and Amb. Susan Rice for an accounting of actions the administration has taken to defend Israel at the United Nations.




To:            Interested Parties


From:        Lanhee Chen, Ph.D., Policy Director


Re:            Top Six Exaggerations In President Obama’s AIPAC Address


In his address to AIPAC, President Obama challenged the American people to look at his deeds and not just his words on Israel and Iran.  So we did.  Unfortunately, the words he uttered before AIPAC bear little connection to either his deeds over the past three years or the facts.  Below are the top six exaggerations from President Obama’s AIPAC speech.


EXAGGERATION #1: Obama Takes Credit For Leading On Sanctions On Iran’s Central Bank And Oil Exports


President Obama claimed:


“Many questioned whether we could hold our coalition together as we moved against Iran’s Central Bank and oil exports. But our friends in Europe and Asia and elsewhere are joining us.”


Here are the facts:


Just Three Months Ago, The Obama Administration Opposed The Bill That Finally Instituted Central Bank And Oil Export Sanctions. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent a letter to the Senate in December 2011 to “express the Administration’s strong opposition to this [Kirk-Menendez] amendment,” arguing it would “yield a net economic benefit to the Iranian regime.” The administration worked behind the scenes to scuttle and water down the amendment, angering the bipartisan sponsors of the bill and forcing the lead Democratic sponsor to tell the administration that “we shouldn’t be leading from behind, we should be leading forward.” The Obama administration finally relented and agreed to sign a watered-down version of the amendment after it passed 100-0 in the Senate.


The Obama Administration Lagged Behind The United Kingdom, Canada, And France, In Calling For And Imposing Sanctions On Iran’s Central Bank. The United Kingdom and Canada imposed sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and other financial institutions in late November 2011, and France also urged such sanctions. On the same day, the United States declined to impose such sanctions.


EXAGGERATION #2: Obama Has Committed to The Joint Missile Defense Programs—Including “Iron Dome”—That Protect Israel.

President Obama claimed:


“As a senator, I spoke to Israeli troops on the Lebanese border. I visited with families who’ve known the terror of rocket fire in Sderot. And that’s why, as president, I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes and hospitals and schools in that town and in others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel’s defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles.”


Here are the facts:


President Obama Has Undermined The Joint Missile Defense Program We Operate With Israel By Trying to Vastly Underfund It. President Obama has consistently lowballed funding for our cooperative missile defense programs with Israel that are meant to develop and improve Israel’s capability to defend against short and medium range ballistic missiles. In FY2012, he proposed a budget of $106.1 million, which Congress recognized as wholly inadequate. Congress rejected that budget and increased it to $235.7 million. This year, President Obama has proposed an even lower budget of $99.8 million. This includes a $72.3 million reduction in funding for the Iron Dome system, from $110.5 million to $38.2 million. 


EXAGGERATION #3: Obama “Rallied” A “Divided” International Community To Impose Sanctions On Iran By “Exposing” Its Intransigence.


President Obama claimed:


“When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in tatters. . . . [T]he international community was divided about how to go forward. . . . [O]ur policy of engagement —quickly rebuffed by the Iranian regime—allowed us to rally the international community as never before, to expose Iran’s intransigence and to apply pressure that goes far beyond anything that the United States could do on our own. . . .Some of you will recall, people predicted that Russia and China wouldn’t join us to move toward pressure. They did. And in 2010 the U.N. Security Council overwhelmingly supported a comprehensive sanctions effort.”


Here are the facts:


Upon Entering Office, Obama Stalled A Unified International Policy Of Steadily Increasing Sanctions. Before Obama came to office, the United Nations Security Council passed five resolutions between 2006 and 2008, including three that featured steadily increasing sanctions on Iran. Only one nay vote was cast on the Security Council against any of these resolutions.When Obama came into office, he stalled this international strategy, choosing instead a strategy of engagement with the Iranian regime with no preconditions. It would not be until after that engagement strategy failed miserably that the Security Council would pass another resolution on Iran in June 2010, the only Iran resolution of Obama’s term.  Unlike the prior resolutions, this one garnered nay votes from both Brazil and Turkey.  


Obama’s 2010 Resolution Failed To Include Crippling Sanctions Because Russia And China Refused To Go Along With The United States. President Obama did not effectively use his leverage and failed to win support from Russia or China for crippling sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and petroleum industry. This rendered the sanctions less effective, and contributed to the failure of the resolution to move Iran off its pursuit of nuclear weapons.


The Only Thing Obama’s “No Preconditions” Engagement Policy “Exposed” Was His Own Naiveté. Most everyone—including President Obama’s own Secretary of State—knew that Iran would not respond well to personal, leader-to-leader outreach with no preconditions. But because President Obama insisted on pursuing his naïve engagement policy, Iran gained valuable time to advance its nuclear weapons program free from further sanctions.


EXAGGERATION #4: Whereas The Number Of Spinning Centrifuges Increased Prior To Obama’s Presidency, Iran’s Nuclear Program Was Slowed By Sanctions In 2011.


President Obama claimed:


“[Before Obama entered office] Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands, without facing broad pushback from the world. . . . Few thought that [2010] sanctions could have an immediate bite on the Iranian regime. They have, slowing the Iranian nuclear program.”


Here are the facts:


Obama Conveniently Omits That The Number Of Spinning Centrifuges Has Grown 124% On His Watch, And That It Has Grown At A Faster Rate Than Before. According to the IAEA, the number of spinning centrifuges went from zero in March 2006 (when the first 164 machine cascade was completed) to 3,936 in February 2009, a growth rate of 112 centrifuges per month. Under Obama the total has jumped 124%, from 3,936 to 8,808, a growth rate of 135 centrifuges per month.


Obama’s Sanctions Didn’t Slow Iran’s Nuclear Program in 2011—Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Rate Was Higher In 2011 Than In All of 2010, And Is Currently At The Highest Rate Ever. The following are the average rates of Iran’s low-enriched uranium enrichment over time:

·         2010: 83 kg/month. 

·         Feb. 2011 to May 2011: 104 kg/month. 

·         Aug. 2011 to Nov. 2011: 98 kg/month.

·         Nov. 2011 to Feb. 2012: 116 kg/month (highest rate ever)


EXAGGERATION #5: Obama Speaks Softly, Carries A Big Stick.


President Obama claimed:


“Already, there is too much loose talk of war. . . . For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster. Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built. Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly; carry a big stick.”


Here are the facts:


The Obama Administration Has Talked Down The Effectiveness And Advisability Of A Military Strike On Iran’s Nuclear Facilities, Undermining The Credibility Of The United States’ and Israel’s Military Options. Administration officials have leaked to the press that its talks with Israel would focus on “the dangers of an Israeli attack” on Iran and attempt to “make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel.” Both of President Obama’s Secretaries of Defense and both of his Chairmans of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have laid out a parade of horribles that would flow from an Israeli attack.  Among the parade:

·         An Israeli attack would only temporarily set back Iran.

·         It would drive Iran’s nuclear program deeper underground.

·         It would unify Iran against Israel.

·         It would unify the region against Israel.

·         It would severely hamper the European and American economies.

·         It could cost many lives in a conflict that would consume the entire Middle East.


There has been little to no discussion of how effective an attack would be or if any preparations are being made to stage one.


Obama Has Announced Dangerous Budget Cuts And Force Reductions. President Obama has announced cuts of $487 billion over ten years to our military, with a possible $500 billion more on the way from mandated sequestration cuts that Obama signed into law. The administration announced reductions to our naval fleet, reductions to our Air Force, a 100,000 troop reduction in our ground forces, and cuts to our missile defense capabilities.


EXAGGERATION #6: Obama Has Stood Up For Israel At The United Nations.


President Obama claimed:


“I stood before you and pledged that, ‘the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations.’  As you know, that pledge has been kept.”


Here are the facts:


President Obama Has Undermined Israel At The United Nations By Seeking To Restore Funds To A U.N. Body That Has Recognized Palestinian Statehood.  U.S. funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was immediately terminated when that U.N. body recognized Palestinian statehood in October 2011. This was in accordance with a U.S. law whose aim is to support a final negotiated peace by denying funding to any organization that recognizes a Palestinian state. When funds were terminated, the Obama administration lobbied Congress to restore funding to UNESCO.  And in its new budget, the Obama administration requests $79 million for UNESCO—an increase over its last appropriation—with the explicit vow to “to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO.”


The Obama Administration Has Repeatedly Focused On Israeli Settlement Activity At The United Nations, Elevating It As A Major Obstacle To Direct Talks. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, President Obama stated to applause that “we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” Despite opposing a resolution to condemn Israeli settlements, President Obama’s ambassador to the U.N. stated before the Security Council, “Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.” The Obama administration’s obsession with Israeli housing and settlements unilaterally upped the ante on direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians. It required as a precondition Israeli action on settlements that—according to Mahmoud Abbas—not even the Palestinians requested.

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