Memo to Mitt: There’s No Insurgency in Iran

"The insurgency in Iran is THIS BIG."<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5447037291/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Since the GOP presidential primary season began, Mitt Romney has been helped by a Republican field filled with candidates whose penchant for gaffes has largely obscured Romney’s less dramatic misstatements. That was the case in Saturday’s foreign policy debate, where there was so much flailing happening that reporters barely noticed Romney offering up a howler of his own.

It’s not quite as dramatic as Herman Cain trying to remember what his position is on Libya, but twice during the debate, in response to a question about Iran, Romney spoke of the need to aid Iran’s “insurgents.” 

Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the company to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we can do beside mil– take military action, then of course you take military action. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. This term “unacceptable” has been applied by several presidents over history, and our current president has made it very clear that he’s not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. I will take a different course. I will make sure that the sanctions, diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, and support of insurgents within the country help them become dissuaded to get away from their nuclear ambition…

There is no insurgency in Iran. There’s the non-violent Green Movement opposition that emerged in the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 presidential election, but there are no “insurgents.” It’s possible that Romney simply misspoke and meant “dissidents,” but one would expect Romney, who spent much of the debate agitating for war with Iran, to have some basic idea of the nature of the domestic political opposition in a country he’s advocated bombing for nearly four years.

As Steve Benen noted on Monday, Romney seems to be benefiting from an unearned presumption of competence, namely the idea that Romney knows what he’s talking about even when he doesn’t. That sort of aura can only be enhanced when the other candidates are declaring that the ACLU is running the CIA, dropping one world-government conspiracy theories, and urging that the US become less reliant on oil from Iran it doesn’t buy.  

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate