UPDATE: I was encouraged by the results of the Iowa vote in terms of the future of U.S. policy towards Israel and Iran, given the strong performance of the top two finishers. Former Senator Rick Santorum — far and away the most pro-Israel candidate in the race, the most experienced candidate on foreign policy and national security matters, and the only candidate with a serious, substantive plan to neutralize the Iran threat — surged from 4% in the polls to capture 25% of the vote, and is now soaring in the polls nationally. This is good news. Now we’ll see how he performs in the heat of the national spotlight. Former Governor Mitt Romney — solidly pro-Israel but without foreign policy/national security experience, and no formal plan to stop Iran — technically placed first ahead of Santorum, but by only 8 votes. The concern with Romney is how strong he would be in confronting Radical Islam and how resolute a defender of Israel he would be when the heat gets turned up, given his history of changing positions. But it’s still good that the front-runner is generally positive on these critical issues. I had been concerned that Rep. Ron Paul — whose economic policy is bold and useful, but who wants to eliminate military aid to Israel and let Iran get nuclear weapons without trying to stop them — would win. He didn’t, but rather faded and came in third. This was a good thing. Rep. Michele Bachmann has now withdrawn from the race, but I’m grateful for her pro-Israel views and her plan to stop Iran, and believe she will be an important national voice in the years ahead.
ORIGINAL POST: What message will the voters of Iowa send the nation and the world tonight regarding the future of U.S. policy towards Israel and Iran? The stakes couldn’t be higher.
There’s a real possibility that Texas Congressman Ron Paul could win. But he would be a disaster as Commander-in-Chief. His comments just this past week have proven how oblivious he is on foreign policy. Of Iran, Paul said, “They don’t threaten our national security.” Paul said there’s no evidence Iran wants to build a bomb, and even if they did they wouldn’t use them. He said, “If I were an Iranian, I’d like to have a nuclear weapon, too.” He views economic sanctions against Iran as “an act of war” and believes the sanctions should be removed. He said he would severely slash defense spending and bring all U.S. military forces home from the Middle East and Asia, despite mounting dangers from Iran and North Korea. Paul has made similarly outrageous statements in the past. He has said he would end all military aid to Israel and would not come to Israel’s defense if Iran attacked. As I noted recently on the blog, Paul’s foreign policy of appeasement, abandoning Israel, turning a blind eye to Radical Islam and gutting the U.S. military would represent a total surrender and invite aggression.
All of the other GOP candidates have countered Paul on his views, especially Speaker Gingrich and Rep. Bachmann. But none have been as principled and consistent in his support of Israel and his commitment to stop Iran as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He was especially effective on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said he would use air strikes against Iran unless the country dismantled its nuclear program or allowed inspectors to verify that the work isn’t aimed at making a weapon,” reported Bloomberg News. Santorum said he would make it clear to the leaders of Iran, “You either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes. Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under my watch.” Santorum was the first candidate to put a substantive plan on the table to neutralize the Iran threat, and is committed to working closely with the State of Israel, rather than undermine Israel. He has made clear he doesn’t want another war in the Middle East, but that we are running out of options and we can’t blink now. If all other measures fail, then he will use force. He believes we must stop Iran from getting the Bomb no matter what. He remains the most resolute GOP presidential candidate in the field on supporting Israel and countering Iran, though Gov. Romney has, to his credit, spoken out more on the issue in recent months. On today’s blog, I have posted an updated analysis of all the GOP contenders.
I’m not endorsing any candidate in this cycle. I don’t believe that’s the specific role God has given me at this stage in my life, and there are many issues of policy and character and experience voters need to consider in choosing a President, not just one’s positions on Israel and Iran. That said, my readers know that I believe the Iran threat to U.S. and Israeli national security will be one of the top issues facing the U.S. in 2012 and beyond, and I have to be honest that I remain deeply concerned by the support Ron Paul is getting in Iowa — and elsewhere in the country — given Paul’s policy of appeasement and weakness towards Iran.
Thus, I’m praying hard and watching closely at what message Iowans will send tonight to the nation and the world on these issues. Hope you will be, too.