Pro & Con on Iran diplomacy: Is the Obama administration’s policy of negotiation misguided?


By U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, DeKalb Democrat

While we remain prepared to fight in self-defense at a moment’s notice, Americans have made it clear they favor tough, smart diplomacy to secure U.S. interests abroad. Eight years of saber-rattling without diplomatic engagement did nothing to set back the Iranian nuclear program. And while there are no guarantees that engagement will produce the results we desire, it is without question the proper tack for the United States at this time.

Congress will soon authorize the Obama administration to impose harsh sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector should the president deem such action necessary. I am proud to have assisted in drafting that legislation, of which I am a co-sponsor. It will add a formidable arrow to the president’s quiver.

I harbor no illusions that Iran will succumb to U.S. pressure overnight. Iranian diplomats have proven themselves shrewd manipulators. But the time is right for a tough diplomatic strategy — multilateral engagement supported by the unique resources and credibility of the United States — that will offer Iran the opportunity to do right while providing for further isolation and punishment should Iran continue to ignore the demands of the world.


By Mitt Romney, former GOP presidential candidate

(In September), senior staff members of the U.N. nuclear agency concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb. We also learned of a previously secret, illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. A nuclear Iran would be a tipping point in the proliferation of nuclear regimes, and yet America still has not taken critical steps to immediately dissuade Iran from its nuclear folly.

At this late stage, I would simply say that it is long past time for America to recognize the nature of the regime we are dealing with. The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical. We should stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not. And agreements, unenforceable and unverifiable, will have no greater impact here than they did in North Korea. Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence. President Eisenhower said it well: “The care of freedom is not long entrusted to the weak and timid.” ... The military option must remain on the table — and that threat needs to be credible. If we allow Iran under the rule of the mullahs to get a nuclear weapon, it will make the problems America faces today look like a walk in the park.