Is the GOP underestimating Obama?
In an eyebrow-raising move ahead of his address to AIPAC and meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, President Obama told The Atlantic Friday that the American military threat against Iran is not a bluff. He may be telling the truth.
For, if Obama is anything, he is a brilliant politician. Therefore, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that he orders the American military to strike Iranian nuclear facilities before the election. Why not? It’s good policy, and it’s even better politics.
Consider: With regard to the anti-war left, it is likely activists would put up a small fuss for a couple weeks, but nothing more, as Obama could justify the attack to them as preventing a second holocaust, and by pointing out that no occupation would be taking place.
More importantly, one of the repeated criticisms of the president -- and rightfully so -- has been that he is not a stalwart friend of Israel. Republicans, and even Democrats such as Alan Dershowitz, have been very critical of Obama's dealings with Israel and the Palestinians, and as a result his support in the Jewish community has suffered. However, could you imagine how quickly a strike on Iran would alter this narrative? Much of the Jewish community may very well rally around the president, and he would stand to cement at least 80% of their vote, as he did in 2008, improving his chances for victory in the key battle-state of Florida. Obama would be hailed as pro-Israel for subduing this existential threat against the Jewish state.
You think Obama doesn't know this?
If the economy takes another dip, and Obama's poll numbers decrease as the election draws near, an American strike on Iran may become increasingly more likely. The economy would take a back seat, and best of all for him, the Republicans would have no choice but to praise the president for taking this bold step to defend America and our ally, Israel. Even if the economy began to rebound, a strike on Iran would make sense politically for Obama, as it would remove foreign policy criticism from the Republican playbook.
With the Republican nominees for president harping on Obama's weakness with Iran for several months now, an American strike on Iran may be politically advantageous. Mitt Romney, who recently declared that "if we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will get nuclear weapons" but "if you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon," would have a major talking point taken away from him. Likewise for Newt Gingrich, who has said that "Obama is the most dangerous President in modern American history" with regard to foreign policy, and that "he is incapable of defending the United States."
If Obama were to strike Iran, any debate about him being a weak foreign policy president would immediately be quieted. He would enter the presidential debates with a firm foreign policy record and as a defender of America, with the Republican nominee looking sheepish and out-of-touch in his criticism.
It is certainly true that Obama has made many foreign policy errors, including not supporting the Iranian democrats in 2009, who were revolting against their Nazi-esque leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Also, the recent criticism of Obama's apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the destruction of a few Korans -- after which dozens were murdered, including two American soldiers in retaliation -- is more than legitimate. But the president's term in office is not over yet, and a strike on Iran would render his past foreign policy errors more trivial by comparison.
Next week, President Obama will be speaking at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington D.C., and don't be surprised if he declares his intention to visit Israel for the first time as president, in order to coordinate with Netanyahu in a strategy designed to halt Iran's nuclear program; and what better strategy than to take out the bulk of Iran's nuclear capability in an attack using only American military personnel.
It is true that an attack on Iran runs many risks, including starting a wider conflict in the Middle-East, and increasing the price of gas. But letting Iran get nukes, or letting Netanyahu deal with it on his own, would be worse, as an Israeli attack on Iran would spur much more negative consequences.
It might be a long shot, but the GOP should not underestimate this president with their fiery, politically-charged rhetoric, as the Iranian story has not played out yet. Instead, the Republicans should focus their attacks on the president's abysmal domestic record -- as they've been doing -- and encourage him to do the right thing regarding Iran; rather than declare that he has already failed on this critical issue, because he has not...yet.
In fact, now might be the best time to consider military action, while Syria, Iran's closest ally in the Middle East, is occupied with subjugating its civilian population with indiscriminate and overwhelming military force.
You think Obama is unwilling to play this ace of spades?
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