Israel Yes, American Soldiers No?
Recapping an appearance from Senator Barack Obama on the estimable Tim Russert’s Sunday morning talk show, The Campaign Spot on National Review Online began this past Monday with an attention-snaring opening snippet:
Russert says that NBC News has learned the U.S. has assembled military plans to strike targets in Iran because that country is assisting its agents/insurgents in Iran. He asks Obama, would you support "limited attacks in Iran"? Obama says he doesn't want to speculate yet. He says that as commander in chief, he doesn't take military options off the table, but that he wants to see the intelligence. After some pro-forma Bush-bashing, he points out that Iran has to change its behavior, but that he will offer "carrots."
Later on, we learn:
Obama says Hillary's use of the term, "obliterate them" in response to a question about the U.S. response to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, is the language of George Bush, of saber-rattling and tough talk. He says that as president, he would respond "forcefully and appropriately."
Eschewing commentary of a political nature—ThreatsWatch strives to remain apolitical—the juxtaposition of Hillary Clinton’s “obliterate them” remark and Obama’s more measured reply to Russert’s question about Iran was nonetheless sobering for it reflects the current schizophrenia of our foreign policy toward that country. Proposing, however inelegantly, a counterstrike against Iran in retaliation for a hypothetical nuclear strike against Israel is an eminently defensible position. Apart from the cold, hard (and some would rightfully argue callous) geostrategic calculations involved, the incontrovertible moral obligation to meet attempted genocide with overwhelming force would demand as much. Political unanimity on the matter would likely be quick and lasting. After all, who among our elected leaders would withhold their support for a military response under those circumstances?
Alternatively, Obama’s deliberate approach to a military response against Iran for assisting insurgent elements in Iraq that are responsible for the deaths of American soldiers embodies the “real politik” attitude of so many in our political establishment. As long as the Iranians don’t partake in the overt murder of American soldiers, everyone seems content to chastise the Iranians for being “unhelpful”, issue ambiguous warnings, or express the desire for more diplomacy. Any talk of military action to countermand Iran’s malevolent influence immediately invites charges of expanding the war and further destabilizing the region
Obviously, no one is advocating “obliterating” Iran. Yet, with the very best of our nation—the men and women of our armed forces—risking life and limb every day in Iraq, some on their third tours, is it too much to ask of or political leadership to form a consensus on the issue of protecting American troops, irrespective of the threat? Is the prospect of even a modest (as in, something well short of obliteration) military strike against Iranian assets/facilities engrossed in the indirect murder of American serviceman that unpalatable?
If so, then perhaps an orderly withdrawal from Iraq is indeed in order for no nation has the right to expect its sons and daughters to fight and die without a reciprocal commitment from the state to their welfare.