Thank God Obama is Running the Israel-Iran Show.

About every half hour, as I remember what a colossal mess the Bushies made of everything they touched, I also remind myself that nowhere were they as dangerous as when they were screwing with foreign policy. And kids, since these are the guys who were dialing back on financial regulation as Wall Street ran wild and handing out deficit-exploding tax cuts for which they hadn’t considered even minimal budgeting, to say they were worse at negotiating and out-thinking the the bad guys in the rest of the planet is truly saying something.

So last week President Obama holds a news conference and gets a flurry of questions on what to do about Iran. “His critics”, which is to say every Republican running for office, have been accusing him of being “feckless” and “dangerous” and worse … for not revving up the B2s. With that in mind, it was reassuring to hear him remind the moths-to-confrontation press corps that gas-bagging campaign bluster is one (silly) thing, and it’s a whole other matter when you actually have to send “the troops” — who conservatives make such a big show about loving and pridefully swelling over — into lethal battle. His tacit encouragement to the press was to get your Mitt Romneys, Newt Gingrichs and Rick Santorums on record explaining not just how soon they’d flatten Tehran but what they’d imagine the blowback to be — as regards, you know, pesky peripheral issues like American standing in a Middle East undergoing dramatic self-generated transformation, oil prices and the world economy.

It isn’t something I expect the corps to follow-up on. I mean, why go there when you can always ask, “Is [insert name of next state] a make or break primary for you?” and call it a day.

But as this Iranian thing simmers, and after reading Ronen Bergman’s sobering Sunday Times Magazine piece “Will Israel Attack Iran?” a few weeks back, I am deeply thankful that foreign policy is the one facet of American government policy that today’s manifestly dysfunctional, obstructionist and counterproductive Republican party can’t screw with … much. In fact, history is already noting the startling qualitative difference between Obama’s foreign policy and domestic policy in the age of Republican pandering to populist Know-Nothingism. Where the former, foreign affairs, is a series of either remarkable successes, (hunting down Osama bin Laden, attacking a long series of other top terrorists, deftly maneuvering through the “Arab spring”) or paying full attention to morass management of coherent if unpopular policies (exiting Iraq and giving the Afghanis one serious last shot at controlling their own security), the latter, the home front, is a constant grinding misery fueled by rhetorical buffoonery, shrill and nonsensical demagoguery and ceaseless Republican obstruction.

What other reaction can you have to Mittens and Newt and Rick, (none of them exactly of the proud, uniformed warrior tradition) trying to out-Curtis LeMay each other over who would drop The Big One first? As I keep saying, there is nothing serious about this crowd, other than, like a heart attack, they have the ability to get a lot of people killed.

Simultaneous with Republicans laughably over-playing their righteous super-hero chops was a “60 Minutes” piece about the mysterious Stuxnet computer virus that wormed its way in to Iranian centrifuges. The story, and numerous newspaper accounts leaves little doubt that the virus was a largely U.S. concocted plot — with Israeli complicity — to slow down and frustrate Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. It was an example of some very clever, 21st century war room thinking, with a negligible repercussion factor. The sort of think smart operators kind of want to try first.

The “60 Minutes” piece is also a cautionary tale about a dawning era of warfare by computer hacking. But, short-term, it represents a level of sophisticated thinking far … far … beyond Bushie, or GOP circa-2012 “shock and awe”, where the only viable pressure ever is full-scale, brute-force military action. Thundering Goliath stuff of the kind that invariably pisses off a whole range of peripheral players and roils international markets in the dreaded “uncertainty” that conservatives love to accuse Obama of fomenting. As with his failure to resolve the debt ceiling crisis, his failure to resolve the home mortgage modification process and his failure to stifle Iranian belligerency.

Based on their tragic record with Saddam Hussein, a far less wily and wealthy despot than the Iranian mullahs, there is no reason (that I have ever read) to believe the Bushie-era neo-cons ever considered anything like a sophisticated cyber-attack on him rather than all out warfare … after of course, first cooking the intelligence through Rummy’s DIA.

So I say again, thank God the adults are in charge. The Stuxnet virus was “outed” after doing its damage for many months. But it is the type of program that gives (good) reason to believe that companion programs are at play.

Moreover, as Obama was talking about nitwits “popping off” and getting all uber-manly — in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee  — about moving the fleet in to position, his reference to political/campaign posturing could and should be taken as a fresh reminder of what is really going on in the three countries most immediately involved. Boiled to its essence all three, Iran, Israell and the U.S., are in campaign season. And in each one, the usual radical, religious-baiting conservatives are thundering about apocalypse and Armageddon. The hyper-conservative mullahs and their religious zealot base in Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu and his Jewish arch-conservative base in Israel and … well, our guys here in the states.

So I repeat, be thankful every day for respite from The Clan of Chaotic Misadventures.

 

16 Responses

  1. Amen.

    isn’t 2 wars enough for now?

  2. “[Stuxnet] short-term, it represents a level of sophisticated thinking far … far … beyond Bushie,…”

    Stuxnet development HAD to have preceded the Obama administration. This is an engineering / development lifecycle thing. I know you’re going to be low information here, so I’ll just assure you: it takes years. Anything the Iranians felt in their machinery in 2009-2010 was conceptualized and developed some years earlier. With mathematical certainty, Stuxnet development started prior to January 2009.

    So no. Stuxnet can’t then be the example that demonstrates the embrace of sophisticated thinking as the Obama administration commenced.

  3. In the thirties when the left didn’t like the official neutrality policy towards the Spanish Civil War, American leftists formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and went to fight for the loyalists on their own.

    Maybe Cheney, Bolton and the Republicans running for president who are not Ron Paul could form the George W. Bush Brigade, arm themselves and arrange to have themselves landed at night on Iranian beaches.

    • Wow, I’d pitch in some $$ for that mission!

    • You think those Chicken Hawks would ever do something like that?

      • Chortle Chortle.

        How we doing on that closing Guantanamo thing? Was the President right or wrong not close it? Was he right or wrong to claim he was going to close it?

        The absurdity here is that mainline Democrats and are capable of no critical analysis of the President. Whatever he does is praised as the most prudent, persuasive, assertive option available. ..including actions that contradict his campaign promises in 2008.

        There’s no qualms here about the growth of the security / surveillance state under the Obama administration? The undermining of due process and Eric Holder’s specious legal defense of that? No qualms whatsoever? Really? Because there was plenty of whining when the Bush administration pursued those goals.

        This is all fanboy stuff herein. It’s just not critical, credible insight.

      • Erik, now you are being silly. Just because you might not be aware of something, that does not mean that it isn’t happening. Further, whether or not Obama is being criticized here (on this site) does not mean that a) Obama is not being criticized anywhere, nor does it mean that b) people who comment on this site are not criticizing him ever.

        More to the point, if those are things that you think the President should have done, why don’t you come out forthrightly and honestly, and make those statements and offer those criticisms? If you then think that others (who, in your opinion should agree with you) are ducking the hard issues, then say so. Right now you are making all sorts of assumptions that simply are not well founded.

      • PM, now you are being obtuse, responding with a bunch of non-falsifiable semantic mumbo jumbo.

        I’m aware of a Glenn Greenwald critique of this nature, maybe some others, not many of any stature. My assertion would be that for 90% of Democrats any critique doesn’t penetrate their intense, over-riding Obama fanboy-ism. In this group I’d include every Democrat who posts at SRC. I do in fact assert that people who comment on this sight never criticize him ever.

        There is in fact a liberal body of thought which a Democrat could critique Obama foreign policy and use of the military. This critique has existed essentially since Vietnam. So absence of an articulated critique at this time does in fact indicate a largely supplicant base incapable of critical analysis.

      • Here is Jon Stewart (oh, right,he is just an entertainer, and only counts as a Democrat when he is targeting republicans and Fox):
        http://blog.amnestyusa.org/waronterror/jon-stewart-takes-on-guantanamo-and-the-ndaa/

        Here is the ACLU:
        http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/guantanamo-enough-already

        Here is me:
        Close GITMO, dammit! (BTW, I said that a couple of days ago, as well as just before christmas. sorry you weren’t around to hear it.)

        sorry, having now proven that you are a twit, i don’t want to waste any more time doing your work for you. next time, if you don’t want to look like a fool, try doing a bit of research before you open your mouth (or flex your fingers)

      • Testy. Geeeeeez. You didn’t see me get mad when you called me “silly”.

        Good examples. But they don’t disprove the larger pattern.

  4. Erik:

    You know full well that Bush just happened to actually have the guts to make a decision on throwing Saddam out, though countless Democrats were on record as saying we should. Had Clinton actually done it, the left would be defending him, as the right is Bush.

    I do agree that it all depends on which side of the aisle you stand. There is an amazing lack of criticism of Obama on this site — I do agree. People struggle to admit what they bought is less than what they believed…simple human behavior.

    With the CBO making a laugher out of ObamaCare cost savings recently, the abject failure of the stimulus program, ballooning debt that puts what Bush did to shame, increasing gas prices and a slower than normal economic growth (coming out of a recession) and a completely incompentent energy policy, foreign policy is one bright spot for the president.

    And it’s a bright spot only because he has continued many of the policies put in place before him. Props on the Bin Laden kill. You are correct on the technology. It did not arrive with Obama. However, credit goes to the folks who proposed using it.

    There is no question that a decent candidate would beat Obama as it stands now. There doesn’t seem to be one in the offering (your six pack is on ice, PM).

    As for the left’s Sesame Street understanding of the financial crisis, some cows are just too sacred to be slaughtered.

    • Hey, Mike:

      speaking about the economic “recovery”, I’d be interested in what you make of this argument:

      http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/03/how-congress-helps-republicans-but-not-democrats-weather-bad-economies-charts.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

      basically, it offers a comparison between the economic recovery under Obama, and the one under Reagan (1982 recession), and highlights the different trajectories of government spending–under Obama, government spending rose slightly and then started falling (now lower than when Obama took office), while under Reagan it rose steadily, ending about 12% higher over the course of Reagan’s first term. The obvious suggestion is that the recovery under Reagan was much stronger because of the basically Keynesian course that the country took (dramatic increase in government spending), while under Obama that path to recovery has been denied to him by the Congress.

    • BTW, Mike, I have at a couple points in time gotten your six pack as well, but I’ve always managed to find an excuse to drink it….nothing personal, of course. (just don’t want it to go stale)

  5. “Mistakes were made…by others.”
    Richard M. Nixon

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