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.