One of my fears of a John McCain presidency was a war with Iran.
I was fairly convinced that a President McCain would lead us into that war, given his tack to the right and his volatility. But it’s not only the crazy right-wing these days who hint around that a war with Iran would be good for the United States. In a strange column last week, David Broder, veteran syndicated “centrist” columnist and Pulitzer winner—he’s appeared on Meet the Press more than 400 times!—wrote this:
Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. 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.
Huh? Orchestrate a “showdown with the mullahs“? What if the mullahs don’t understand Mr. Broder’s nuance here and decide President Obama is inciting a war to get elected and they oblige him?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday that only a credible military threat can deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon, Israeli political sources said. [...]
“The only way to ensure that Iran will not go nuclear is to create a credible threat of military action against it if it doesn’t cease its race for a nuclear weapon,” one of the sources said Netanyahu told Biden.
“The economic sanctions are making it difficult for Iran, but there is no sign that the Ayatollah regime plans to stop its nuclear program because of them.”
Well, at least Republicans are reigning in the rhetoric these days, right? Wrong:
The United States faces a possible war with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and a “period of confrontation” with China over its currency, a top US lawmaker warned Saturday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said his fellow conservative, fresh from their historic elections romp this week, support “bold” action to deal with Iran.
Okay, okay. Maybe by “bold” action he meant something other than war. Nope:
If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” he told the Halifax International Security Forum.
“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table.”
The South Carolina Republican saw the United States going to war with the Islamic republic “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.”
Little did I imagine that in the period of a week, a prominent columnist, a world leader, and what passes for a “sensible” Republican Senator would all suggest that war with Iran was the answer to a difficult question of what to do about that country’s nuclear ambitions.
As Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American writer, said this morning on Morning Joe, Iran is “deeply nationalistic,” and, despite the widespread internal hatred of the government there, the Iranian people are,
…with the possible exception of Americans, the most patriotic, most nationalistic people on earth. This isn’t Iraq, this isn’t Afghanistan…sort of “fake” countries put together. And if you attack Iran, it’s the best way to ensure that [their] government goes absolutely nowhere.
It’s just a good damn thing that John McCain lost in 2008, or we might by now have three bleeping wars to weep over.
Here are Graham’s remarks and the discussion with Reza Aslan on Iran and the calls for war: