Mitt Romney, on the campaign stump, is trying to outdo Ragin' Rudy for title of "most belligerent candidate" as both try to win the warmongering base.
NEWBERRY, S.C. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that if terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city while he was president he would retaliate ``in a very dramatic and clear way.''Retaliate against who, exactly? As we've pointed out a few times here at Newshoggers, the most likely sources for nuclear material or weapons are still the former Soviet states and Pakistan. In the former case, the material in any bomb will track back to Minsk or somesuch and Russia still has plenty of retaliatory capability itself. In either case, it's highly unlikely that any state government would be itself culpable of anything more than bad materials security or some corruption. If the U.S. is really going to say it will start nuking nations for such failures then it will be a bad thing for international relations.
Posed that scenario while campaigning Friday in this early primary state, Romney said he didn't want to say much more.
``The answer is you would retaliate and you'd retaliate in a very dramatic and clear way. I don't want to be terribly more specific than that,'' the former Massachusetts governor said.
``But there's no question that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves. And I would never shrink from protecting the American nation, the American people, nor shrink from retaliation if somebody used something as awful as a nuclear device. We will be safe.''
(Oh, better add China to that list of possible nuke sources. They have plenty of retaliatory capability too.)
At the end of the day, "expanded deterrence" is the equivalent of running with nuclear scissors. But various presidential wannabes seem quite willing to ignore that reality in favor of talking tough for the home crowd. The rest of the world notices, worries, and begins to wonder how best to defuse the biggest nuclear bully on the block.