Why Do We Always Over-Correct?

Ok, so Dick Cheney was wrong about a lot on foreign and defense policy.

But that doesn’t make Rand Paul right.  He’s as misguided as Cheney, just in the opposite direction.

Too little engagement is as bad — worse? — than too much.

I want to get out of Afghanistan yesterday, but I want to continue our drone program, including against Americans if they choose to join the terrorists, and I want to make sure that Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons.  We should have stopped Pakistan and North Korea, but too late now.  Let’s not add Iran to that list of mistakes, which, aside from the threat to Israel, would set off disastrous nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East.

Both the White House and the GOP have handled Rand Paul clumsily.  I hope they’ve each learned a lesson.


Barak Says Barack Has Israel’s Back

At the World Economic Forum in Davos (I wonder if he crossed paths with Derek Jeter), Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed confidence that the choice isn’t between a nuclear Iran and a major war:

“What we basically say is that if worse comes to worst, there should be readiness and an ability to launch a surgical operation that will delay them by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them.”

He said that President Obama directed the Pentagon to come up with “quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels.  So it is not an issue of a major war or a failure to block Iran.”

Sounds good to me.

Interview with Christopher Dickey, Newsweek/The Daily Beast

Quote of the Day

“The world tells Israel wait, there is still time.  And I say, wait for what?  Wait until when?  Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

One of the things we should remember today is that neither the Clinton Administration nor the early Bush Administration took Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda seriously enough.  The saddest thing about 9/11 is that it could have and should have been prevented.

More on U.S., Israel, Iran

From “After pushing Israel from Iran strike, Obama is suddenly OK with Netanyahu,” Haaretz:

“So what have we seen here? One Israeli newspaper insisting that Netanyahu’s relationship with the administration is so bad that the Americans are actually going to Tehran behind Israel’s back. And Obama’s representatives insisting that relations were never stronger. All this comes after a week in which the Joint Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey went so far as to say that if Israel goes ahead and attacks Iran, ‘I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.’

“Why is the administration suddenly rushing to convince us that it is on the same page with Israel on Iran? It can’t mean that Obama has changed his mind and is prepared to countenance an attack on Iran. On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden went as far as to bring Iran into the presidential election campaign when he attacked the Republican candidate Mitt Romney for being ‘ready to go to war in Syria and Iran.’

“Obama’s attempts are a rear-guard damage limitation action aimed at smoothing over Netanyahu’s ruffled feathers and they seem to reflect a feeling in Washington that the battle has been won. The intense pressure on Bibi has yielded the necessary, grudging assurance that Israel won’t spring any surprises before the elections and any plans for an attack on Iran have been shelved, at least until after the elections. Now it’s back to politics as normal and an incumbent president, intent on re-election needs to remind voters that Israel has his back.”  Emphasis added.

I don’t mind waiting a couple of months, and I don’t care whether Israel attacks Iran or we do or we both do, but it has to get done.  I’m as glad to be out of Iraq and as anxious to get out of Afghanistan as anyone in this country, but we can’t let Iran get nuclear weapons.

Secret Anti-Israeli American Contacts with Iran?

The White House denies disturbing reports out of Israel that the U. S. has told Iran it won’t support an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if Iran doesn’t attack our military installations in the Persian Gulf.

From “U. S. denies Israeli newspaper report of secret Iran contacts,” Mark Felsenthal, Reuters:

“The White House on Monday denied an Israeli newspaper report that accused Washington of secretly negotiating with Tehran to keep the United States out of a future Israel-Iran war.

“The Jewish state also played down the front-page report n its biggest-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, which followed unusually publican disagreement between the allies about how to tackle Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

“Without naming its sources, Yedioth said Washington had approached Tehran through two unidentified European countries [if true, one would be Switzerland] to convey the message that the United States would not be dragged into fighting if Israel carried out threats to attack Iran.

“Yedioth said the United States told Iran it should in return refrain from retaliating against U. S. interests, including its military in the Gulf.

“In Jerusalem, an Israeli official, who asked not to be identified, described the report as illogical.

“‘It doesn’t make sense, ‘ the official said.  ‘There would be no need to make such a promise to the Iranians because they realize the last thing they need is to attack U. S. targets and draw massive U. S. bombing raids.”

Where’s this coming from?  I don’t know.  Sheldon Adelson and the Romney campaign?

I hate the way this is framed as Israel’s problem.  The Saudis are as freaked out about Iran’s getting the bomb as the Israelis.  Even if Israel didn’t exist, you’d still have the Sunni-Shiite fight destabilizing the region.  Even if the Jewish religion didn’t exist, you’d still have plenty of other religions for radical Islamists to go after — they hate Christians and Buddhists and Hindus and atheists as much as they hate Jews.  They want everybody to be a devout Muslim.  An Iranian bomb will set off a scramble in the Middle East among Sunnis to get nuclear weapons.  And does anybody think India likes the prospect of two Muslim counties with the bomb? 

Our home-grown Christian Dinosaur Riders may be crazy, but the Muslim extremists are barbarians, all too ready to stone or behead or mutilate people, especially women.

Time Nears for Israel to Fish or Cut Bait

President Obama would of course prefer that an Israeli decision on attacking Iran not coincide with the American people’s decision on re-electing him, but Israel may be running out of time.

From “Nuclear Report On Iran Puts Israel in a Box,” Jodi Rudoren and David E. Sanger, NYT:

“But the agency’s report has also put Israel in a corner, documenting that Iran is close to crossing what Israel has long said is its red line:  the capability to produce nuclear weapons in a location invulnerable to Israeli attack.  With the report that the country has already installed 2,000 centrifuges inside a virtually impenetrable underground laboratory, and that it has ramped up production of nuclear fuel, officials and experts here say the conclusions may force Israel to strike Iran or concede it is not prepared to act on its own.

“Whether that ultimately leads to a change in strategy — or a unilateral attack — is something that even Israel’s inner circle cannot yet agree on, despite what seems to be a consensus that Iran’s program may soon be beyond the reach of Israel’s military capability.

“Military professionals concede the potential effectiveness of an Israeli strike is decreasing as Iran moves more of its operations underground.

“Politically, Israeli leaders are concerned they will lose leverage after the November presidential election — regardless of the result — but are also worried about a pre-election strike that angers Washington, whose support would be all the more critical in its aftermath.”

This isn’t just Israeli’s problem.  Life would be a lot easier for us if Pakistan didn’t have nuclear weapons.  Life will be a lot harder for us if Iran gets them.  Plus it will set off more proliferation in the Middle East, as unstable governments like Egypt and Saudi Arabia decide they have to have nuclear weapons if Iran does.   The combination of crazy people with 7th century mentalities and 21st century weapons is horrifying.  No one wants another war, but we have no choice — Iran must be stopped.