Thursday, November 18, 2010

Neutering Iran: How Obama Could Get Support from the Republicans and Possibly Win Reelection

What happens if Barack Obama keeps U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the long haul, modernizes the American nuclear infrastructure as a counterweight to the signature of the New Start treaty with Russia, and gets tough — real tough, going beyond sanctions — on Iran?
That is the question asked in the International Herald Tribune by John Vinocur. And the reply he gives is:
The president gets stand-up support from a group of Republicans who are concerned about a potential wave of isolationism coming from “an unholy alliance” of right- and left-wing outriders in Congress who disdain the country’s engagement in the world.

And Mr. Obama receives an acknowledgment from one of the Republican Party’s leading spokesmen on national security that, “If he does a good job in keeping us safe, I would not be surprised if he gets re-elected.”

Of course, some not-so-small fine print slips in here: A second-term Obama White House, in this view, also presupposes an economic rebound and avoiding a major terrorist attack.

But Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — described by Bob Woodward in his book “Obama’s Wars” as regarded by Mr. Obama as “the most reasonable Republican ally” on issues like Afghanistan — is saying these days that his party’s ascension in Congress can mean foreign policy support for the president in exchange for clear demonstrations of a new firmness, particularly on Iran.

… according to Mr. Graham, the Republican notion of a swap in their cooperation with the president involves Mr. Obama’s “need to start talking more openly” about possible military solutions.

“That’s what I mean by being tough,” the senator said.

Very tough. If Mr. Graham were giving advice to the president, eventual strikes would not just be to neutralize the Iranian nuclear program, “but to sink their navy, destroy their air force” — and, “in other words, neuter the regime.”