Monday, October 29, 2007

Match, Meet Arsonist

Via Scott Horton, we learn that National Director of Intellignece Michael McConnell intends to keep secret the conclusions of a recent National Intelligence Estimate, the key conclusions of which are that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program and a missile delivery system, but that at best will be unable to manufacture anything approaching a functional nuclear warhead in anything less than a couple of years. As Horton notes, this is not a helpful conclusion to the war hawks in the administration who would like to launch a strike on Iran sometime before the Bush era comes to a close (and the sooner, the better.)

It is in this climate that wise pundit Sebastian Mallaby at the Washington Post has concluded that the hallmark of being a "grown-up" when it comes to foreign policy is giving the President what he asks for:

"I learned a clear lesson from the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2002," says base-pleasing John Edwards, "if you give this president an inch, he will take a mile -- and launch a war." "This is a lesson that I think Senator Clinton and others should have learned," Obama echoes. "You can't give this president a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it."

The truth is that Clinton did not give Bush any sort of "blank check" -- if Bush wants to bomb Iran or hit Iranian units inside Iraq, he can do so without a Senate resolution. But Obama and Edwards are so intent on Bush-bashing that they refuse to cut him any slack, even when he advances a policy that they might ordinarily favor. After the administration announced a new package of Iran sanctions on Thursday, Edwards declared that the president and his team had once again "rattled their sabers in their march toward military action." Bush hatred has driven him to the point where he regards sanctions as a harbinger of war rather than an alternative.

Incredibly, Mallaby has not learned at this point that if the President desires something, a Democrat should automatically be suspicious of the reasoning why. He also has somehow failed to realize that sanctions can easily serve a dual purpose. They could in the hands of a responsible administration be a means of avoiding war, and an integral part of a program of sticks and carrots that would encourage Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions. Or, in the hands of this administration, they could be a useful pretext for war, as the Bush administration will be able to claim after sanctions have failed to deter Iran (which they will) that the only course left is military action.

I don't know why this has to be explained. I do know that being a grown-up means considering ALL the possible consequences of ones actions, and not simply the most likely, or the most favorable. If we are to strike Iran at some point in the future, be on the lookout for a column from Mallaby in which he explains that it was inconcievable that the Bush administration would use the failure of sanctions as an excuse for war.

1 comment:

adam said...

They fact that there's a stick but no carrots in their approach shows how they intend to use sanctions, me thinks.