KERA recently interviewed leading Republicans running for the US Senate. We asked how far the United States should go in assisting Israel in a strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites. Shelley Kofler has details on what the candidates had to say.
The four leading Republican Senate candidates in Texas all say the United States should do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Craig James and Tom Leppert agree Israel is a strategic ally we must defend.
Does that mean deploying US military? Ted Cruz says perhaps.
Cruz: I think the United States should do everything humanly possible to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. What does that mean exactly? I think that means a combination of everything, it means diplomatic efforts, it means economic sanctions, it means getting serious about putting pressure on Iran and as they get closer, I think it absolutely includes the possibility of military action.
Kofler: So let’s say next week, next month, Israel launches its preemptive strike, what should America do?
Cruz: I think we should be very supportive of it.
Kofler: We should have military troops?
Cruz: Now listen, that’s a question ultimately for the military leaders to assess in terms of. The United States should support any and all efforts to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
David Dewhurst said all options should be on the table. He referenced his experience in the CIA and as a member of a Presidential Commission on foreign intelligence as he sized up the situation.
Dewhurst: If there was an attack on underground facilities, you are going to have to carry these bunker-buster bombs. And as far as I know, the Israeli Air Force does not have any platforms, any aircraft that can carry them.
Dewhurst: I think President Barack Obama’s handling of our enemies, especially of Iran, has been the worst I think I’ve ever seen of an American President since Jimmy Carter. His stated desire to be able to sit down in friendship and negotiate with them is naïve or is intentionally destructive because it isn’t working.
I recommended tougher sanctions and dramatic increase in covert action.
Craig James and Tom Leppert also suggest trying diplomacy and sanctions first but James doesn’t seem to think that will be enough.
James: Not for a second do I believe that the bad guys are going to look to diplomacy and respect it. They respect one thing and that’s power. So you go through the sanctions as best you can to squeeze the Iranian group. And then it comes to other things. And if and when it comes to a military strike and force, if that’s what our military leaders believe is the best option and what we have to do, we defend Israel, we defend our interests, because we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear bomb.
Leppert clearly backs US military assistance if Israel decides to take out Iran’s nuclear sites.
Kofler: Should we be ready to back them up with firepower?
Leppert: Yes. It clearly is the devil’s alternative, but that’s going to be a less dangerous situation and less implications than if Iran has nuclear weapons. This isn’t a situation where we can continue to talk and talk and talk. At some point that talk leads to Iran having those nuclear weapons. Once they’ve developed them than it’s a much different world.
Iran has agreed to resume talks about its nuclear program. But questions continue over whether Israel will launch a military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear development sites and whether the United State will be drawn into the fight.