Who Said It: Bush or Obama?
When it comes to their rhetoric on Iran,
there's less distance between the cowboy and the community organizer
than you might think.
BY URI FRIEDMAN
With Super Tuesday in full
swing, the Republican presidential candidates are once again distancing
themselves from Barack Obama's approach to Iran's nuclear
program, which the U.S. president outlined
in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on
Sunday, March 4. Rick Santorum has
accused Obama of "appeasement" and turning "his back on the people of
Israel," while Mitt Romney has promised to confront the "thugs and tyrants" in
Iran with "our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it." But,
as the New
York Times noted on Tuesday, the muscular rhetoric obscures the many
similarities between the policies espoused by Obama and his Republican rivals.
Conventional wisdom holds
that Obama couldn't be more different from his predecessor when it comes to
Iran. George W. Bush
wouldn't negotiate with Iran until it suspended its uranium-enrichment process.
talked about dropping the precondition, though he later compromised on the
that "some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and
radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong
all along." Obama vowed
to extend a hand "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist."
Bush once observed
that after decades of sanctions against Iran, "We're out of sanctions." Obama has
staked his Iran strategy on his ability to build international consensus
around tougher economic sanctions to put a "world of hurt" on Iranian leaders.
Obama has played up these
differences. "When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in
tatters," Obama informed
AIPAC on March 4. "Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands,
without facing broad pushback from the world. In the region, Iran was ascendant
-- increasingly popular and extending its reach. In other words, the Iranian leadership
was united and on the move, and the international community was divided about
how to go forward."
But the chasm, in terms of
rhetoric and strategy, may not be as wide as you think. For evidence, we invite
you to play Foreign Policy's favorite
new game -- Who said it: Bush or
1. "I have always said that all options are on table, but the first
option for the United States is to solve this problem diplomatically.
That is why we've been pursuing multilateral diplomacy."
Answer 1: George W. Bush
2. "The Iranians and the Syrians are acting irresponsibly inside Iraq.
They perceive that it is a way to leverage or impact or weaken us at a
time when they're worried about United States action in a broader
Answer 2: Barack Obama
3. "Our opposition to Iran's intolerance and Iran's repressive measures,
as well as its illicit nuclear program and its support of terror, is
Answer 3: Barack Obama
4. "We need more
sanctions. The next step is for the Europeans and the United States and Russia
and China to understand that diplomacy only works if there are consequences.…
And what the Middle East does not need is a nuclear arms race."
Answer 4: George W.
5. "[Iran's leaders are] a tough, tough crowd to negotiate with. They've
got the classic 'principal-to-non-principal' negotiating strategy
available for them."
Answer 5: George W. Bush
6. "If Iran respects its international obligations and embraces freedom
and tolerance, it will have no better friend than the United States of
Answer 6: George W. Bush
7. "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the
Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet
Union posed a threat to us."
Answer 7: Barack Obama
8. "The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians
from having a nuclear weapon.… I know here in Washington prevention means
force. It doesn't mean force necessarily. In this case it means diplomacy."
Answer 8: George W. Bush
9. "Iran's nuclear program -- a threat that has the potential to bring
together the worst rhetoric about Israel's destruction with the world's
most dangerous weapons."
Answer 9: Barack Obama
10. "You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic
Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of
nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities,
and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather
through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the
Iranian people and civilization."
Answer 10: Barack Obama
11. "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran
is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the
Answer 11: George W. Bush
12. "We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy
Israel.… So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War
III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having
the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Answer 12: George
13. "Should the Iranian regime -- do they have the sovereign right to
have civilian nuclear power?… If I were you, that's what I'd ask me. And
the answer is, yes, they do."
Answer 13: George W. Bush
14. "We stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan;
we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of
Iran; and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in
Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human
Answer 14: Barack Obama
15. "Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with
you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward
to the day when you have your freedom.
For the last answer and your score, go here:
See Votes by State
News & Politics