The Buzz

Beating the War Drums Again

These days, it seems near impossible to open a newspaper without finding some neocon trying to out-hawk President Obama on Iran. The most recent example is Charles Krauthammer’s latest Washington Post op-ed.

Krauthammer quotes an administration official to prove that the administration is too dovish. The source said that “we’re trying to make the decision to attack [Iran] as hard as possible for Israel.” Translation: Obama is not serious about preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Krauthammer argues that the president’s strong words on Iran merely represent “campaign-year posturing.” Obama’s real goal is “to get past Nov. 6 without any untoward action that might threaten his reelection,” such as an Israeli strike. Thus, Obama is pursuing policies—such as a new round of negotiations—that constrain Israel’s ability to attack.

Leave aside Krauthammer’s hyperbolic language—as when he says that the administration “acquiesced” to resuming talks, as if negotiation were equivalent to surrender. The biggest problem is his complete refusal to grapple with the consequences of the policy he appears to suggest. Krauthammer does not openly call for an attack, but in painting the prospect of a nuclear Iran in apocalyptic terms and framing the prospect of an Israeli strike as Jerusalem’s “sovereign right to self-protection,” he gives little doubt that this is the course he favors.

Many have warned that striking Iran now could have a whole slew of potential effects, most of them damaging to U.S. and Israeli interests. These possible pitfalls have been described here at TNI, but to name just one, an attack would undoubtedly strengthen the hand of those in Iran who believe that acquiring nuclear weapons is a strategic necessity—thereby making a nuclear Iran more likely, not less. Yet Krauthammer says not a word about any of the many possible negative outcomes.

It’s worth remembering how disastrously wrong Krauthammer and his fellow neoconservatives were about basically everything in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Nine years, many thousands of lives and a trillion dollars later, they should reflect on that mistake rather than beat the drums for another Middle Eastern war. The rest of us should likewise be wary of howlers like this latest one from Krauthammer.