Romney Aide to Haaretz: After He’s Elected, Iran Will See There’s a New Sheriff in Town

In wide-ranging interview, former ambassador ro UN Richard Williamson says U.S. Republican candidate will make military threats against Tehran credible, arm Syria's rebels, and visit Israel before going anywhere else.

Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev
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Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev

"When Mitt Romney is president, Iran will understand that there is a new sheriff in town and that his position is that the only thing worse than the U.S. using force would be for Iran to have nuclear weapons”, according to Richard Williamson, a senior foreign policy adviser to the Republican presidential candidate.

In a wide-ranging foreign policy interview with Haaretz, Williamson blasted U.S. President Barack Obama’s “feckless and ineffective leadership” on both Iran and Syria, adding that “Iran knows there is no credible military threat from Barack Obama."

"As Bismarck said: Diplomacy without a credible use of force is like music without instruments. And when Israel has talked about the range of options they may have to consider to protect their own interest, the Obama administration has done its best to make it difficult if not impossible for Israel to do what it must,” he added.

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Williamson, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Political Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State and most recently former U.S. President George Bush’s Special Envoy to Darfur, also said that Romney favors arming “the moderate elements” in the Syrian opposition and stopping the Obama Administration’s "mother, may I" approach in seeking to coordinate moves on Syria with Russia and China.

Echoing Romney’s controversial assertion that Russia is America’s “number one geopolitical foe," Williamson said that in Romney’s view, the U.S. interest in Syria is “strategic” and that Moscow “not only has a domestic authoritarian drift” but is “working against American interests” in both Iran and Syria.

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In an interview sanctioned by Romney’s campaign headquarters, Williamson blasted Obama’s attitude towards Israel, saying that “one of the results of his foreign policy is that our friends and allies, including Great Britain, Israel and others, have not had their interests taken into account, have not been consulted closely, and there isn’t a constructive working relationship"

“I’ll guarantee you this,” he said referring to the famous March, 2010 flap with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden over settlement construction during his visit to Israel “in a Romney Administration, an American vice president won’t act like a teenager and keep the elected prime minister of Israel waiting for 45 minutes for dinner, because of a personal pique.”

Asked about the disparity between Romney’s portrayal of his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as so close “we can almost speak in shorthand” and the one given by Netanyahu this week in Vanity Fair in which he said “I don’t think we had any particular connection," Williamson recounted the two men’s work at Boston Consulting Group, adding: “I think it’s fair to say that they’ve had a personal relationship that’s gone on for decades and they have a relationship in which they can exchange views both when they agree and when they disagree.”

Williamson confirmed Romney’s pledge that his first trip abroad would be to Israel, saying, “that was his decision, his statement, and he’s a man who’s good to his word.”

Finally, Williamson refused to get drawn in to a detailed discussion of Romney’s prospects among Jewish voters, though he said that “there are different sub groups in the United States that have voting patterns and we hope to do a little bit better than normal among all those groups.”

Asked if would put a figure on that, Williamson replied: “The only figure is in November, and it will be 50.1% of the American vote.”

Read the full transcript of Haaretz's interview with Richard Williamson

Mitt Romney listening to his staff while riding on his bus after a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday, June 8, 2012. Credit: AP
Richard Williamson.Credit: U.S. Mission, Geneva

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