Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Yes We Can, But Only If We Bomb Iran

 

Today, the most buzzworthy op-ed ever written by David Broder:

With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

My great and powerful social networks suggest that a lot of people on the left of center are horrified that Broder would say such a thing. I’m marginally more concerned by the damage that will be done to the idea of a military response to Iranian nuclear armament because of its association with Broderism. There’s something enchanting about the idea that Obama will turn to belligerent foreign policy leadership in order to salvage a presidency wrecked by foolishness at home. But the whole thought experiment leads us away from thinking more calmly and carefully about what’s already been teed up by the administration as far as Iran is concerned.

Frankly, I think Iran’s already in a box. I think the administration — or at least its foreign policy shop — has pretty much succeeded in stripping away any serious obstacles to limited American military action. And, at the same time, the US has also succeeded in marshaling the support of a significant number of major global and minor regional powers — a coalition of the willing bystanders.

That’s necessary for a successful foreign policy. But it isn’t sufficient. And no amount of success in confronting Iran can make up for the administration’s present level of failure in confronting America’s most serious domestic challenges. Something tells me the Republican Congresses to come won’t embrace the devil’s bargain forged by the Bush-era GOP, whereby budgetary support for toughness abroad earns federal Dems all the spending and entitlements they can eat.

There are 15 comments.

  1. Profile Photo Member

    It’s disconcerting, to say the least, that in a situation which represents a threat of the very highest order, we’re led by the weakest Commander-in-Chief in our history, advised by a National Security Advisor whose background consists of being a Democrat political lickspittle and Fannie Mae appointee.

    I fear that if Obama and his crew do take this on, it will make Operation Eagle Claw look like a brilliant military accomplishment by comparison.

    Let the Israelis handle it. They actually understand the existential threat and will go at it full-out, rather than equivocating and working through every possible domestic political scenario before they act.

    • #1
    • November 1, 2010, at 3:35 AM PST
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  2. Nick Stuart Inactive

    The breathtakingly profilgate orgy of spending we’ve seen since 2007 (and the foreplay of the years 2000-2006) is as much of a threat to national security as a nuclear Iran. Moreso in that it’s only highly likely that a nuclear Iran will be an existential threat, while it is a certanity that the spending is. If (lips to God’s ear) the Republicans regain control of the House they must stop the borrowing and spending. They can’t play “you can have your turtle tunnels and monkeys on coke if you let us have action against Iran” game.

    Kenneth’s idea of outsource it to Israel makes sense, and if that’s the only way we can get it done, then it will have to be done that way. But we can’t expect “somebody else” to always do our heavy lifting for us.

    • #2
    • November 1, 2010, at 3:50 AM PST
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  3. Publius Inactive

    .

    • #3
    • November 1, 2010, at 3:51 AM PST
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  4. Publius Inactive

    I’m not sure that the Israelis can pull off eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat with their military power. If they can’t, we need to do it. If they can, more power to them because they face a clear and present existential threat. If we’ve learned one thing from the last gruesomely bloody century, it should be that when people say that they want to kill the Jews, they mean it.

    If Obama had supported the Iranian political uprising when it happened instead of voting “present”, we might not be facing this situation where we’re likely stuck with military action that will almost certainly cause quite a bit of blowback, but is ultimately necessary.

    This is why it’s important not to elect naive Ivy League academic types to lead Western civilization.

    • #4
    • November 1, 2010, at 3:52 AM PST
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  5. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    This is a consummation devoutly to be wished, and I do hope that Obama is up to it. But I have grave doubts.

    • #5
    • November 1, 2010, at 4:04 AM PST
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  6. Profile Photo Member
    James Poulos, Ed.: Frankly, I think Iran’s already in a box. I think the administration — or at least its foreign policy shop — has pretty much succeeded in stripping away any serious obstacles to limited American military action. And, at the same time, the US has also succeeded in marshaling the support of a significant number of major global and minor regional powers — a coalition of the willing bystanders.

    That’s necessary for a successful foreign policy.

    James, not to be argumentative here, but just to solicit opinion in the community – since when does America need a by-your-leave from other nations and the laughable UN before we take military action in our own defense?

    I don’t recall Reagan doing that before invading Grenada or bombing Libya; or George H.W. Bush before invading Panama.

    I personally feel uneasy with the paradigm, which seemingly began with the first Gulf War, that it is incumbent upon us to get a thumbs-up from Belgium before we get down to the business of rubble creation.

    Is the Middle East different because our “allies” rely so heavily upon its petroleum resources? If they object, what are we then to do?

    • #6
    • November 1, 2010, at 4:28 AM PST
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  7. flownover Inactive

    Past the obvious satire of Broder urging Obama to go to war , or their utter inability to mount the effort, we return to our own country and it’s military gratefully. They can do it of course. And Israel might be able to. Maybe Russia can. China ? We ought to man up and have the guts to declare our alliance with Israel and do it together . Utterly and soon. We need to show the world how things really are. Obama is one of the sure bets of American politicians who wouldn’t do it. Like Clinton , he looks at policemen and soldiers through the eyes of someone on the wrong side of the ramparts.

    • #7
    • November 1, 2010, at 4:42 AM PST
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  8. Scott R Member

    Broder’s scenario of two years of orchestration and preparation which crescendo in an attack seems unlike how such an attack would actually take place.

    Isn’t it more likely to be a week or so of maybe-maybe-not rumor that culminates in a weeklong firestorm? The necessity of at least a smidgen of surprise precludes drawn out diplomacy and obvious war preparations as with Gulf Wars I and II.

    Or so I’ve been assuming, anyway.

    • #8
    • November 1, 2010, at 5:12 AM PST
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  9. James Poulos Contributor
    James Poulos Post author

    Kenneth — I meant necessary to make a success of our current slate of challenges and opportunities. Certainly we don’t need to pass some global test — as a rule. But Iran is no Grenada or Panama or even Libya. Iran nearly makes Iraq look like Panama. The downside of poor execution is huge. Whatever the final choice and the final outcome, we should have all our ducks in a row — maximizing powerful and relevant partnerships, tacit or otherwise, and minimizing opposition, out front and behind the scenes.

    • #9
    • November 1, 2010, at 5:23 AM PST
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  10. Profile Photo Member
    James Poulos, Ed.: Kenneth — I meant necessary to make a success of our current slate of challenges and opportunities. Certainly we don’t need to pass some global test — as a rule. But Iran is no Grenada or Panama or even Libya. Iran nearly makes Iraq look like Panama. The downside of poor execution is huge. Whatever the final choice and the final outcome, we should have all our ducks in a row — maximizing powerful and relevant partnerships, tacit or otherwise, and minimizing opposition, out front and behind the scenes. · Oct 31 at 5:23pm

    Yeah, I guess you’re prudent there.

    But Kenneth’s got a fever and the only prescription is more rubble.

    • #10
    • November 1, 2010, at 5:33 AM PST
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  11. flownover Inactive

    Kenneth Mahmoud just had his birthday . Can’t you be a little more understanding , or does your State Dept have to do that for you ? Maybe we could have Hillary and PJ Crowley deliver a mislabeled stapler that says IED w/ EFP . you think hill knows what they do ? Double rubble Barney !

    • #11
    • November 1, 2010, at 7:41 AM PST
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  12. TerryW Inactive

    Are we talking just massive airpower here? I don’t think airpower completes the mission. I think we would have to put troops on the ground INSIDE of Iran and we have been expending land component resources in Iraq and Afghanistan for 9 years. We have worn out all kinds of material not to mention the human resources. If a war is important enough to fight then everybody in this country needs to have their sons, fathers, and brothers/sisters in uniform, not just mine.

    Some of our troops have been deployed 3-5 times. We didn’t fight that long in WWII!! The toil it is talking on our troops is enormous. If we are going to fight, let’s crank up the draft, get a credible force trained and deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and then bring in the fly-boys and “shock and awe” them back to the stone age! Israel could eliminate the threats in Lebanon and Gaze and we could take care of the “fall out” (no pun intended) in Iran.

    • #12
    • November 1, 2010, at 8:10 AM PST
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  13. Palaeologus Inactive
    James Poulos, Ed.: Today, the most buzzworthy op-ed ever written by David Broder:

    Seems like typical Broder fare to me. To wit:

    If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

    Well, sure Dave. If the president manages to accomplish something very difficult, his street cred improves. But what kind of diplomatic “showdown” will do the trick?

    Only credible threat of force, or massive economic consequences have a prayer of turning the Iranians. How likely are we to get international consensus for either? The Dems have a better chance of holding the House. Yet, barring that, the president must “incite a war” or ignore the Israelis’ doing so.

    If he does the former he guarantees himself a primary (and probably 3rd party also) challenge from the left. If he does the latter he gains little to no credit, and likely ends up boxing himself into some sort of idiotic diplomatic neverland where he has to simultaneously support and condemn a successful expedition.

    Meanwhile, our economy improves dramatically. If Obama manages that, of course he’ll win.

    • #13
    • November 1, 2010, at 8:42 AM PST
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  14. Dave Roy Inactive

    Question for the experts here:

    Given the scattered nature of the Iranian nuclear program, are the Israelis actually capable of taking out the whole thing? Or at least enough to set them back some amount of years?

    Everybody says “Israel will have to do it if Obama doesn’t,” but part of me is wondering whether they can actually be successful. Would they need American firepower? Did we ship some of our bunker buster bombs to the Israelis? I can’t remember.

    Every time I think of this situation, I think of Summer 2009 and what might have happened if Obama had shown even a shred of support for the protesters. And how different it was from Reagan and Poland.

    • #14
    • November 1, 2010, at 11:27 AM PST
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  15. John Marzan Inactive

    the best chance for regime change was last year.

    • #15
    • November 1, 2010, at 12:56 PM PST
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