So when it comes to executive power and waging war, we have two major party candidates who both believe they can do pretty much anything they want, including bomb other countries who pose no threat to us, without bothering to get approval from Congress. Here’s Romney on Face the Nation:
I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate for instance have written letters to the President indicating you should know that a containment strategy is unacceptable.
We cannot survive a course of action would include a nuclear Iran we must be willing to take any and all actions. All those actions must be on the table.
The difference, of course, is that Obama once believed, or at least said, that the president could not just bomb a country without congressional approval unless there was an imminent threat. Once in office, of course, he quickly forgot about it and bombed Libya without even a pretense of getting a vote in Congress (and to be fair, Congress had no desire to wade in on the issue, as is almost always the case; political courage is not exactly flowing down the streets in DC). Romney doesn’t even pretend.
Bear in mind that this was also Dick Cheney’s position in 2002 and 2003, that Bush could order an invasion of Iraq without bothering to get congressional approval. That was too much even for George W. Bush, who did seek and receive an authorization to use military force. As Andrew Sullivan notes, Romney is even further to the right on this than Bush, he’s in Cheney-land, where presidents are virtual kings. Daniel Larison at the American Conservative blasts Romney over it:
These are not statements that Romney’s critics are putting into his mouth. No one is speculating about what Romney’s position on Iran might be, and no one is imputing views to him that he doesn’t claim to hold. He is telling the public plainly that he believes the United States cannot survive a containment policy directed against Iran. It is fair to conclude from this that Romney is delusional (or is pretending to be delusional) and cannot be entrusted with the responsibilities of the Presidency.
The United States survived decades of containing Soviet power. America outlasted what may have been the greatest security threat in our history partly because of a policy of containment. Iran is far weaker than any threat the USSR ever posed. If the U.S. could not survive a nuclear-armed Iran, a President Romney would be powerless to change that. On the other hand, back in the real world, if the U.S. has little to fear from a nuclear-armed Iran and is more than capable of deterring any threat from Iran, there is no reason to listen to anything Romney has to say on this subject.
Obama has been really bad on these issues, as I’ve documented for the last three years, but at least he isn’t listening to Dick Cheney and John Bolton. Yes, it could be worse.