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Governor Mitt Romney spoke at Elliot Hospital today.

Question: Governor Romney, 12 US Army Captains have published a nation-wide op-ed calling for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq, or for the reinstatement of the draft. Given the increasing number of similar articles, how can you continue to stay the course in Iraq?

Answer: Because it’s working, number one. Number two, because it would be unacceptable to this country for al Qaeda or Hezbollah to be established in Iraq. If the Sunni population of Iraq were dominated by al Qaeda, which is what they’re trying to do over the last few years. If they are successful in dominating the Sunni population, you would have a place in the world with vast resources, population as well, that would be able to recruit, train, and launch terrorist attacks against us and against our friends around the world.

That would be unacceptable.

And so, our troop surge–oh, and by the way, over the last three or four years, all kinds of errors and I can’t justify that–but the effort that General Petraeus is leading, that has led to a surge and has led to the Sunnis helping us reject al Qaeda, to such an extent that Osama bin Laden said on a tape–what, three days ago?–“please, come to Iraq. This is the big battlefield. Come join us here.” Why would he do that? Because it’s not working for him because his people are on the run. So I believe it’s important for us to maintain our troop surge. We’re going to start to bring our troops down and the Iraqi military is going to start standing up and taking front line responsibility. We’re taking out one brigade a month starting in January, and our troops will play much more of a support roll, but I believe it’s essential for us not to allow a safe haven for al Qaeda to exist.

If you think about what they watched from Afghanistan and Afghanistan doesn’t begin to have resources that Iraq has. If they took over Iraq in some way, or some portion of Iraq, it would be very very dangerous to this country and that’s why I support the effort at this stage.

Question: Mr. Romney, I spent 20 years in the army and I’m curious about what you have to say about Iran at this point.

Answer: I’ve been talking about Iran a lot. I went to Israel in January and spoke to the Herzliya Conference [?] in Tel Aviv and said the greatest threat to the safety of the world is Iran. And I believe that’s very much the case.

They’re moving head long into developing nuclear weaponry. They talk about genocide, they talk about wiping a nation off the face of the earth. They talk about killing us. They just had a rally in Tehran and handed out bibs to ralliers “death to Israel” “Death to America”. People with those kind of bibs on, a government that promotes that, is developing the technology that will carry that out. That’s unacceptable to us. Therefore, I support very strict economic and diplomatic sanctions immediately on Iran–I have been proposing that for sometime– I proposed, as well, that states and others that do business with Iran–excuse me–that business who do business with Iran that pension funds do not invest in those business, that we in no way, support those. I saw the President, just this morning, well actually it’s the Washington Post, that the President, or the Administration will be announcing today, tough unilateral measures of that nature to put a lot of pressure on Iran. I think that’s the absolute right way to go.

Ultimately, these measures ought to work if we can get other nations in the world to come together. And when I say “tough measures” I mean really clamp down on their economy. I would indict Ahmadinejad, their president, under the Genocide Convention. The Genocide Convention, that we have entered into, says incitations for genocide is an indictable offense. I would indict him on that basis. Let that country know they are a pariahs.

I’d indict him, I’d clamp down on economic sanctions, and hope those work and keep on squeezing tighter and tighter until they do work. If, for some reason, they continue down their course of folly toward nuclear ambition, then I would take military action if that was available to us, that option is on the table. It’s not something which I will spell out specifically, I already can’t lay out how that will be done, but we have a number of options from blockade to bombardment of some kind, and that’s something we have to very much keep on the table, and ready ourselves to be able to take, because frankly, I think it’s unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapon.

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