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Unfortunately, none of the Republican gains in the House are likely to lead to increased pressure on Iran. The anti-Obama backlash and Tea Party activism that helped deal the Democrats what even the President conceded was a “shellacking” were driven by concern over domestic issues — jobs, deficits, and reckless spending on a transformative agenda in the midst of an economic downturn. In this environment of tremendous focus on domestic issues, there will be little appetite in Washington to spend time or energy on international affairs when the next battle for the White House will be fought closer to home.
The recent Democratic losses in the House might, if anything, make the President even less likely to take a tough line on Iran. With the House in Republican hands, the President knows that advancing his left-wing agenda domestically is essentially off the table. The best he can hope for at home is that the Democrats’ control of the Senate will cause sufficient deadlock to prevent the Republican House from undoing too much of what he’s already accomplished. Given that, it is likely that President Obama will devote himself to pursuing his transformative agenda not at home, but abroad. And what better way to placate a frustrated liberal base than to present himself as the peaceful President holding the forces of war at bay in his own country while seeking to rehabilitate America’s image abroad?
Indeed, the President recently took time out of his trip to Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, to reiterate that America is not at war with Islam, now or ever. You can be sure that the mullahs in Tehran view these words not as a sign of America’s devotion to religious freedom, but of President Obama’s desperate desire to establish a narrative for his presidency. He’s lost his chance to reform America. He’ll have to settle for global peace ambassador, instead.
It is a pity that Senator Graham’s statement in Halifax cannot possibly resonate as loudly in Iran as President Obama’s words in Indonesia. Iran must be confronted, and soon, if it is to be prevented from becoming a nuclear power. Unfortunately, given Congress’s fixation on economic matters and the President’s determination to be a hero in the Muslim world, the worst threat America can realistically hold over Iran’s head are the easily misquoted words of the Senator from the great state of South Carolina.
Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @mattgurney.
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