Former CIA chief: Romney’s right on Iran
posted at 2:01 pm on October 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
How well did both candidates frame the biggest threats against the US during the final presidential debate, to the extent that they stuck to the debate topic of foreign policy? Newsmax asked former CIA chief Michael Hayden whether Barack Obama was correct in identifying terrorist networks as our greatest threat, or Mitt Romney pointing to Iran and their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Hayden gives the point to Romney — and says that Obama has been largely ineffective at stopping the mullah’s march to nuclear proliferation:
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Newsmax that Mitt Romney was right — and President Obama wrong — when the GOP candidate said during the Monday debate that a nuclear Iran and not a terrorist attack was the biggest threat to America’s national security.
The retired 4-star Air Force General also says he is “not very hopeful” that negotiations with the Iranians will dissuade them from developing nuclear weapons. And he predicts that a President Romney would “review” Obama’s exemption of some of Iran’s major trading partners from imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. …
During Monday’s presidential debate, President Obama stated that the biggest national security threat was an attack by a terrorist organization, and Romney said it was a nuclear-armed Iran.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Hayden states who he thinks was right.
“I was advising the [Romney] campaign, but I did not advise the governor on this question. But I can tell you, I have been giving speeches now for three and a half years since I left the government. The general theme of the speech is what things keep you awake at night, and for three and a half years I have begun with Iran, a nuclear Iran, and pointed out that of all the things I left when I left the government, the one that has gotten increasingly dark, increasingly problematic, has been Iran.
“The governor’s choice was the one that I have been saying since I left government, and I frankly think it is the most destabilizing trend out there, should it come to fruition and the Iranians get the nuclear capability.”
In fact, as Hayden points out — and as Romney also argued during the debate — the toughening of sanctions originated in Congress, not in the White House. “They have really held the president’s feet to the fire,” Hayden remarks. Hayden also criticized Obama’s efforts to provide some exemptions to the sanctions for some of Iran’s trading partners. Hayden told Newsmax that those exemptions undermine the pressure of the sanctions, as well as the symbolic unity that magnifies that pressure.
Finally, Hayden had particularly sharp words for Obama over his “horses and bayonets” remark. “You had two men on stage,” Hayden said. “One was President. The other was presidential.”