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2. Is Romney damaged? (Gergen) CNN
3. Costs of killing Iran's nuclear scientists (Tobey) NewScientist
What to do about Iran
WHAT TO do about an increasingly truculent and threatening Iran is now the most important foreign policy challenge of 2012. Republican presidential candidates are all over the strategic map. Rick Santorum wants the United States and Israel to bomb. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich accuse President Obama of weakness, but it isn’t clear that they would act much differently. Ron Paul opposes force against Iran because “they don’t threaten our national security.’’
A more sophisticated plan would be to stick with the strategy that two unlikely partners - Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush - have tried since 2005: punish and isolate Iran with ever tougher sanctions while leaving the door open to negotiations and an eventual diplomatic solution. As an Iranian nuclear weapon is rightly unacceptable to the United States, both presidents left the threat of force on the table to concentrate the attention of mullahs in Tehran. This strategy is not by any means guaranteed to succeed. But it is beginning to gather greater support in key capitals and has quiet bipartisan support among many congressional leaders, keeping us, so far, out of another Mideast war.
Is Romney damaged?
The cloak of inevitability that Mitt Romney has been wearing -- on again, off again -- is suddenly and dramatically off again. Just as he seemed poised to wrap up the GOP nomination in South Carolina, Romney has been hit with a triple dose of bad news:
Newt Gingrich has been surging among South Carolina voters. His strong debate performance Monday night, coupled with Romney's clumsy responses on his taxes, allowed Gingrich to move up swiftly. This week's CNN/Time/ORC International poll showed Gingrich cutting the Romney lead, and three polls Thursday morning have Gingrich modestly ahead in the state.
Rick Perry, in bowing out Thursday, gave a full-throated endorsement of Gingrich. Perry commanded little support in South Carolina, but his departure 48 hours before voting starts will inject fresh energy into the Gingrich campaign.
Iowa has now released its final count from its caucuses showing that lo and behold, Rick Santorum has the most votes -- only a 34-vote difference but enough to give Santorum fresh bragging rights. (Many will always wonder how the trajectory might have changed had Santorum been declared the victor on caucus night.)
Costs of killing Iran's nuclear scientists
WHEN Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a chemist at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Iran, was killed on 11 January by a magnetic bomb stuck to his car, he became the fifth such victim in Iran, according to William Tobey of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
Two nuclear scientists were killed in 2010, an electronics student was shot dead last year, and another physicist is thought to have been killed in 2007. In 2010 nuclear scientist Fereydoon Abbasi survived a bomb meant for him. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
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