Increase sanctions, not spending


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Monday night in Boca Raton, Fla., President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney had their final debate with a primary focus on foreign policy.

The candidates heatedly discussed America’s role in foreign policy, how the military ought to function, and what to do in regards to a major foreign threat, Iran.

When the discussion turned to Iran, though the debate was still heated, both candidates overwhelmingly agree on policies. The two candidates disagreed when Romney said that increasing the U.S. military budget, and by doing so increasing our military’s strength, will help the world combat a nuclear Iran.

But increasing the budget for military spending will not affect Iran’s ability to achieve nuclear capabilities.

“The issue is that having greater deployment capabilities means that we have to bear the defense costs,” said Brian Lai, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science. “That is a clear difference between those candidates.”

If the greatest foreign threat to the United States is Iran, as Romney stated in the debate, then increasing sanctions, removing the closest Iranian ally, and coercing Iran into diplomatic agreements are all policies that should be endorsed over Romney’s policies that weaken the United States by increasing the deficit.  

The Iranian threat should not be ignored, but increasing military spending would only threaten Americans more.

“Based on what intelligence reports are coming out with, Iran could have nuclear weapons technology in a year — it’s hard to know exactly,” Lai said. “For both candidates, time is of the essence.”

Since the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, signed into law by Obama, the United States has stopped almost all trade with Iran, with major penalties, both civil and criminal against people who violate those sanctions.

According to this act, “goods or services of Iranian origin may not be imported into the United States, either directly or through third countries.” The only materials originating in Iran that may be brought to the United States are “gifts valued at $100 or less; information and informational materials; household and personal effects, not intended for any other person or for sale and accompanied baggage for personal use normally incident to travel.”

These are some of the strictest sanctions ever to be used, and in the last year, the U.S. Treasury Department reports that Iran’s exports of oil decreased by 55 percent.

The Council on Foreign Relations reports though Iran has attempted to shield itself from the full force of these sanctions, the country’s challenges have been increased because of the sanctions.

“They [the Iranian leaders] do have to be aware of the economic situation,” Lai said. “If the economy is worse next election, the regime can only do so much oppression before it must be fearful of significant discontent.”

The U.S. presidential candidates differ on the size of and spending on the military, but whether the United States increases or maintains the military, Iran will still work to get nuclear weaponry because the U.S. military will still spend more money on the military than any other nation in the world.

Romney asserted that the United States should expand military spending. The president, alternatively, endorses cutting spending. But neither of those options will change the Iranian threat; the options will only change the American deficit.

The amount the United States spends on the military does not change the Iranian threat, because right now we spend more than the next 10 largest militaries combined, and Iran is still working on nuclear capabilities.

However, increasing the military could threaten the American economy. It would be irresponsible to increase government spending at a time when the American deficit is a serious issue for the majority of Americans.  

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