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Spengler

Iraq Didn’t Destroy the Republican Party … but Iran Might

March 29th, 2013 - 3:03 pm

The estimable Peggy Noonan asked last week, “Can the Republican Party recover from Iraq?,” adding, “It’s still digging out, and whether it can succeed is an open question.” Republicans can succeed by boldness, clarity, and courage, but by no other means. Americans trust the Republican Party to look out for their security in a pinch. By a margin of 63 to 28, the Pew Institute reported March 26, they favor military force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Just 8% are undecided. There’s the Republican majority on foreign policy. Even Western Europeans (excepting Greece) favor the use of force if needed, albeit by smaller majorities.

Why aren’t we appealing to this majority? Apparently we are so browbeaten by the public backlash against the blunders in our nation-building exercise that we are afraid to ask the public to support a limited, mainly aerial attack on a terrorist nation on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. If that’s the best we can do, we deserve the contempt of the voters. Mitt Romney hid under his chair during the second presidential debate on foreign policy. It didn’t do him any good. This kind of timidity goes back to the Bush administration, which feared that an extension of the conflict would lead to a public backlash against the war.

Obama has done nothing since taking office but let the mullahs run out the clock while they accelerate uranium enrichment, extract plutonium from the Bushehr light war reactor, and perhaps acquire weapons from North Korea. No-one expects the Obama administration to do what the vast majority of Americans want, that is, use force to prevent this calamity from happening. Top Pentagon planners assume that Iran will acquire nuclear capability. The oil market assigns a probability of around zero that America will attack Iran, as I showed in a recent study for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

 

Republicans should assert leadership on national security. We should say: “Enough is enough. We’ve run out the clock for four years, and Iran is on the verge of getting nuclear weapons. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, so will the terrorists that Iran has funded and armed for the past thirty-four years. It’s time to take action.”

We should remind voters that Obama did nothing to aid the Iranian people when they demonstrated in the millions against vote fraud after the 2009 presidential elections in that country.

We should demand that Obama back regime change, as my PJ Media colleague Michael Ledeen has argued for years. We should ridicule the notion that our intelligence services can pinpoint the date at which Iran will become a nuclear power. They were caught flat-footed by India’s nuclear weapons acquisition in 1998 as well as North Korea’s apparent test of a plutonium bomb in February. And we should make clear that we have no intention of putting significant numbers of boots on the ground in Iran.

Among the 28% who oppose military force are many supporters of Rand Paul who see any overseas military action as the thin end of the wedge for another land war. These are fearful people. The task of leadership is to make them more afraid of terrorists getting nuclear weapons from Iran than, say, the CIA using drones on American territory.

Republicans are still playing geopolitical small ball, attacking Obama for not doing enough to help the Syrian opposition, for example.  Small ball is guaranteed to lose. Precisely how the United States is supposed to arm “moderate” Syrian Sunnis while keeping weapons out of the hands of the al-Qaeda types who do a disproportionate share of the fighting is an unanswerable question in any case. In Syria’s chaos, we can’t often tell them apart. Meanwhile Iran has placed Revolutionary Guard regulars in Syria as well as its Hezbollah proxies. Iran’s attempt to position itself as the nuclear-capable dominant power in a “Shi’ite crescent” from Lebanon to Afghanistan persuades the Sunnis of Syria (and their co-religionists across the Iraqi border) to fight to the death. Syria’s civil war cannot be controlled as long as the shadow of Iran falls over the country. The road to peace in Damascus lies through Tehran (and Bushehr).

It’s pointless to take potshots at Obama for failing to act on Syria. What we should say is this: “Iran is the main source of instability in the Middle East. Iran’s intervention in Syria has turned the country into a slaughterhouse. By showing weakness to Iran, the Obama administration encourages its murderous activities elsewhere in the region.” American missteps set up the Syrian civil war, as I argued in a March 19 post. Most of this goes above the heads of the voters. But they are wise enough to know that it’s extremely dangerous for an America-hating band of murderers in Tehran to get hold of nuclear weapons.

Republican leaders should hammer at this issue relentlessly. If Obama–contrary to the world’s well-founded expectations–were to take action against Iran, we would take the credit. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, Obama will take the blame for losing the Middle East. In either case, Republicans will regain the high ground on foreign policy.

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Top Rated Comments   
Well, another Goldman column, another smear against Rand Paul. What a shocker that is. You do realize, Mr. Goldman, that Rand Paul and Ron Paul are two different people, yes? Or do they "all look alike" to you? Just wondering.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I simply do not care anymore.
Stupid Party?
Evil Party?
Same bird, different wings.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (56)
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I keep stating the problem already -- what if the Pentagon analysts are right and it's too late to stop Iran from getting a bomb? What then David? What would air strikes accomplish if Iran already has at least one or two working nuclear devices purchased from North Korea? True we could degrade their missile capabilities but the bombs won't be touched.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we do it correctly, any existing weapons are destroyed. It cannot be done with air strikes. It requires and Reconnaissance in Force, that is, go in heavy, don't shoot first, but hammer if fired upon, go, see, eliminate.
Easy to say. Harder to do.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dear Mr. Goldman,

Oh, how I rue the fact I feel compelled to dredge up that sorry phrase "thinking outside the box." Yet, I so do.
The vast majority of Iran's oil rigs are found offshore in the Persian Gulf, or on small offshore Persian islands. Seizure of these assets, on a partial or total basis, would entail a naval operation. This would involve use of our Special Ops and Navy Seal assets, and perhaps a few Marines. No regular army troops would be required. The Iranians would respond, via small-boat swarming activities, and some off-shore and on-shore missiles. We have excellent defenses against these assets. In approximately 2 weeks time, the contest would be over, a contest, if properly managed, that would include the elimination of the entire Iranian air force, air defenses, and navy. The chance they could re-take the various rigs would be zero.
Game, set, match. The key to the Iranian problem is their greatest asset, oil, which is extremely vulnerable to a relatively minor operation on the part of the U.S. navy. Lock-up their oil, and Iran goes out of business in two weeks' time. Think oil, not nukes. No oil, no nukes, of that you can be sure.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The straits of Hormuz are key to delivering huge quantities of oil all over the world.
Iran has already threatened the security of the straits and were they ever to mine them creating a huge problem for oil tankers to navigate through insurance for tankers navigating the straits would skyrocket. All of a sudden $150 oil is in the realm of reality.
Iran knows this,we know this, zero knows this.He will never take action against iran which could threaten saudi oil flow.
That's why the Saudi loyalty he has shown keeps him from approving the Canadian pipeline more fracking or allowing more oil leases here in the states. Ozero is hell bent on incrementally screwing the country in favor of the saudis and to a certain extent the Russians as well.
We are simply pawns in a big league game.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>> Precisely how the United States is supposed to arm “moderate” Syrian Sunnis while keeping weapons out of the hands of the al-Qaeda types who do a disproportionate share of the fighting is an unanswerable question in any case.

But setting up this pretend-impossible conundrum of how to arm the right people and get results in your strategic interests used to be what foreign policy types did. After regime change that you're advocating do you think the choice of who to arm would get any easier? Nope, the same argument would be true after regime change and this type of thinking only determines that the most ruthless or well-backed foe by our adversaries win. Do you think they'll be friendly to us? Not likely. So this supposed perfect conundrum whereby we can't act to aid anyone without also arming Al Queda is something of a canard. The longer the doomed regime lasts in Syria the more Al-Queda will get embedded in the forces participating in the overthrow. And good luck keeping these foreign fighters out of Europe or other friendly places. Many of them are European citizens. Once they get trained and a tast for battle they won't go back the cafe in Denmark.

So though I agree with regime change for the reasons mentioned, I'm not impressed with the logic of Goldman's "unanswerable question". If these questions are unanswerable we're in deep trouble and joining the "bomb them and leave crowd" will just be further evidence of our lack of will and confidence that we have an answer to anything. If the marines hadn't slaughtered so many thousands of Al Queda in Iraq we'd be in deep doodo now. Goldman is just joining the likes of the Libs in pretending nothing good came out of it, but its a self-defeating position to agree with the Libs and still argue for foreign policy intervention of any type. That middle position is untenable. Might as well duck and cover. But at leasts Libs can live with a bomb them from 30k feet approach on a good day, so the main virtue of the position is that they could be brought onboard such a scheme. That worked out great in Gulf War I didn't it? Remember the first attempt on the World Trade Center in '93? Nope, down the memory hole.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pay me now or Pay me later, but you will pay me, my name is destiny. Obama and his progressive feel good minions are once again taking us down the path of appeasement and will back us into a lot of blood. Instead of taking care of the issue now, we will wait for New York or LA to blow up and decide that a million deaths from an Iranian made nuke must be avenged and then the fun really begins. These sorts of Humans never understand human nature and live in their little fantasy worlds full of cowards and fools.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Pay me now or Pay me later, but you will pay me, my name is destiny. "

Didn't know Destiny posted here, got to check in more often!

So hey, Mr. Destiny (if that is your real name) before we acceot your expertise, just one question...who did you call the election for, Romney or Obama?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mao Xia, what does that have to do with anything? Some deep thought intended for weak souls like yourself? Trying to pretend that you have some grand intellectual standard for the rest of us that only odd ducks like you understand? Odd fellow indeed are you. Not impressed. But thanks for what ever it is you are trying to share.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm not fearful of war, but I do believe that the gradual use of force in these mid-east "adventures" will only weaken our unity and resolve for the real war when it finally forces itself on us.

Make no mistake, war is coming, not some epic break-their-stuff lightning campaign like "Gulf War One" and not some nation-building fiasco like the Iraq or Afghan "wars", but a "kill 'em all and let God sort them out" bloodbath to see who will survive into the future. This war will come whether we want it or not because there are people who are willing to force it on us.

We cannot successfully fight such a war unless the nation is united in purpose. Bullying gradualism divides us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Peg Noonan and David Goldman?

The Cutlass Supreme and Ninety-Eight Brougham of the GOP!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Prometheus is chained to a boulder, Zeus' eagle ripping at his liver.
Epimetheus is alive and well, and _after_ the first, or at most second
terrorist Nuke explodes the US will wage total war, including the use
of nuclear weapons, on all those who have in the past or could in the
future enable further attacks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's why there will be no nuclear explosion here. The unnamed "opponents" are not stupid or suicidal (so-called "martyrdom operations" not withstanding). Why force the uncertain things when long-term subversion is working just fine?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unluckily, that's the only way.
The Country has gone back to a pre-September Eleven mindset.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Indeed it has.

As an octogenarian with vivid memories of that wheel-chair-bound Democrat shrinking violet Franklin Roosevelt and his "Day of Infamy" speech and the united fury of our American public in 1942, I simply cannot understand our current divisiveness and head in the sand attitude of, "Who, me?.....why me?....not me."

Two surprise aerial attacks out of Asia. The "...we're all Americans now.." of the Europeans in the immediate days after 11 September evaporated very, very quickly, didn't it?

Even comparing the [to me at least] obvious parallels of Soviet Cold War patient, patient, mole-infiltration and subversion with the very same tactics/strategy of our resident Muslims is simply never mentioned by anyone.......publicly....unless I've missed something.

Are our attention spans so truncated now by these trendy "social media" and other computer generated Googled materiel that we truly are entering that Orwellian "new-think" and "new-speak" dimension?

Reality seems to've taken on a wholly new dimension. Why don't we Americans (the Europeans will have to take care of themselves now....our sacrifices towards Europe's behalf since 1917 are another subject..) come around at long last to accept the reality that we're in a new World War against practicing Muslims...everywhere....and most assuredly in Dearborn-istan and Northern Virginia-istan.

Two aerial attacks out of Asia.....but just try to look at and actually see the poles-apart, long-run differences.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Explain please why it should be left to the USA or Israel to take out Iran's nuclear factories. Don't countries like Saudi Arabia - Bahrain - Qatar - the UAE etc have as much to fear from Iranian nukes as Israel and the USA? Dreams of hegemony are alive and well in Iran. I'm sure that should any of those countries be in the market for a few dozen bunker buster bombs they'd find a willing seller. The Saudis have the planes to do the deed - and its a much shorter flight than for Israeli planes and there is no love lost between them. The long game if Iran is allowed to continue their quest to become a nuclear power is to force other countries in the region to either fold to the whim and will of Iran or to develop their own nukes.

Why the hell is it left to us (and/or Israel) to take out these tin pot dick-tators and their high tech toys?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Saudis have their hands full just trying to keep control of their own country. Striking at Iran would send their Shiite minority, and other Shiites along the Gulf, into the streets in earnest.

$300/bbl oil would do all sorts of interesting things to economies around the world.

At least it would not be boring.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Gulf states don't have the capability. Israel might (don't ask me because I don't know). American surely does.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why do you suppose the Norks are raising such a fuss just now? To draw attention from Iran?

You criticize Rand Paul but endorse Michael Ledeen? We are overextended, precisely due the the 'cry wolf' approach of people like Ledeen that has seen the US jumping into conflicts we have no business being in. Somalia? Kosovo? Libya? (Which Ledeen ludicrously termed an "insurrection". We had no business being there, and the upshot was to arm terrorists.) Such adventures have left many of us less-than-enthusiastic even when a matter of national interest is more-or-less arguably present. And Mr. Obama's capricious assasination-by-drone-bombing campaign has blurred the lines to where coherent strategy becomes even more difficult. Where does it end?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am for limited but decisive use of force against hostiles who threaten the US and its vital interests. I am against occupying any Middle Eastern country for purposes of nation-building. It's the occupation, not the use of force per se, that stretched our resources.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
NorKs are puppets. You should address your Qs to puppeteers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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