Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Tehran Wants a Neocon

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered his most high-profile foreign-policy speech to date at the Virginia Military Institute last week. As expected, politicians and pundits have interpreted his remarks to fit their respective election-year narratives. For Republicans, the former Massachusetts governor articulated a vision that will reclaim “the mantle of leadership” and guide America into a future of reinvigorated global preeminence. For Democrats, the Republican nominee at best plagiarized President Obama’s foreign-policy prerogatives and at worst reaffirmed the fears of many who equate Romney with the disastrous policies of George W. Bush.

But a foreign-policy speech also stirs interest abroad. Perhaps no foreign government paid more attention to Romney’s remarks than the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Republican presidential hopeful did not disappoint: “I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” After hearing six consecutive American presidents talk tough on Iran, decision makers in Tehran feel confident in their ability to distinguish rhetoric from reality. And what they (mis)perceive may surprise you.

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