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Zbigniew Brzezinski: Romney is 'playing around with matches' on Iran

Mitt Romney has been talking tough on Iran lately.

Mitt Romney has been talking tough on Iran lately. In an op-ed last month in the Washington Post, the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee wrote:

I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution.

Romney added that he’d restore aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf region. And he closed with this stark warning: “Either the ayatollahs will get the message, or they will learn some very painful lessons about the meaning of American resolve.”

On Morning Joe Friday, Romney’s approach came in for some harsh words from Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, in addition to being Mika Brzezinski’s dad, served as President Carter’s top foreign policy adviser.

“The easy, quick fashion in which he disposes of the Iranian problem by indicating that in effect, he would be using force, is very troubling,” Brzezinski pere told the gang. “I don’t think a presidential candidate should be playing around with matches that way. This whole thing can become explosive, disturbing, and destructive.”

Brzezinski wasn’t the only one to strike a note of concern about the signals Romney’s sending on foreign policy.

Joe Scarborough noted that in recent times, the Republican Party has been split between realists like James Baker and Colin Powell, and the neo-conservatives who pushed for war in Iraq. “If you look at the people who are around Mitt Romney, he’s surrounded by necons,” said Scarborough.

One thing the panel didn’t mention: A centerpiece of Romney’s criticism of President Obama on foreign policy has been his charge that Obama has gone around the world “apologizing” for America -- he even called his campaign book "No Apology," an effort to emphasize what he sees as the contrast between his own approach and Obama's. The only problem: Independent fact-checkers have established that the claim is basically a fabrication.

So in addition to saber-rattling that many see as dangerous, Romney’s pitch on foreign affairs has also been characterized by a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts.