Mitt Romney has largely remained silent on the issue of the war on Iraq. His political tenure is limited to his single term as the governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007. This gives him the luxury of distance from national politics usually unavailable to presidential contenders – a boon he does not hesitate to capitalize on. He remained silent on the issue throughout the war’s first years, rarely mentioning the place by name in any of his speeches until 2005. Representative Bob Elliott, Republican from Salem, offered this criticism of Romney’s Iraq stance:

You have not really zeroed in on the main issue that bothers the people of New Hampshire — especially independents in New Hampshire — and that’s the Iraq war… Public feeling in New Hampshire is not going to change between now and November (2008) … unless we have some kind of answer making them feel a little bit better about getting our boys back

He has confined his comments on national security to more politically neutral topics such as expanding the size of the armed forces and increasing defense spending and he has a tendency to lash out against the “Jihadists” (Which will be discussed in a later post). Even since entering the race for the Whitehouse, he has been careful in his critique of the issue. He has complemented the President on the initial invasion plan but has criticized how the current administration has handled the reconstruction of Iraq saying that the administration “did not do a terrific job”. Such a stance is hardly new or interesting but Mitt Romney’s chameleonic opinions don’t manifest on the issue of Iraq. Mitt Romney has displayed a degree of consistency about his stance on the war that may surprise many of his critics. Perhaps this exactness is only the result of his past silence.

Romney’s stance is mainly one of deference, either to President Bush in the beginning of the conflict or to the military commanders currently:

I agree with the President: Our strategy in Iraq must change. Our military mission, for the first time, must include securing the civilian population from violence and terror. It is impossible to defeat the insurgency without first providing security for the Iraqi people. Civilian security is the precondition for any political and economic reconstruction.

and…

In consultation with Generals, military experts and troops who have served on the ground in Iraq, I believe securing Iraqi civilians requires additional troops. I support adding five brigades in Baghdad and two regiments in Al-Anbar province. Success will require rapid deployment.


But despite this he remains cautiously optimistic

 

Today, the attention of the nation is focused on Iraq. All Americans want our troops home as soon as possible. But walking away from Iraq, or dividing it in parts and then walking away would present grave risks to America. Iran could seize the Shia south, Al Qaeda could dominate the Sunni west, and the Kurds could destabilize the border with Turkey. A regional conflict could ensue, perhaps even requiring our return into far worse circumstances. The troop surge has a real chance of working, and early signs are encouraging. It is time for Congress to follow the lead of the commanders in the field and the Commander-in-Chief.

Mitt Romney’s consistency on Iraq is made easier by the fact that he doesn’t really take a firm stance. Romney’s deference on Iraq seems more nuanced than his flip on abortion or gay marriage if he changes his mind it will probably be because he was presented with new information that he didn’t have before. In terms of his consistency, Romney’s lack of foreign policy experience may be helpful rather than hurtful
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[1] This post was contributed to by Reality Checker Dan Anderson from sunny Central California. If you have a topic you want us to check up on, or would like to share your own bit of research, send us an e-mail at Realitycheck2008@Gmail.com

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