Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He Wouldn't Do That, Would He?

Victor Davis Hanson believes that an attack on Iran is far more likely in an Obama administration than it would have been under President Bush. The reason, he opines, is the Left's inconsistency:
In terms of the Obama presidency, there is now no anti-war movement. It simply vanished in January 2009. Former outrages like Guantanamo, renditions, and Predator-drone assassinations almost magically became A-okay. The left-wing base dared not continue its old Bush slurs, given its support for Obama’s liberal domestic agenda. Quiet conservatives were perplexed over whether to be outraged that Predator-in-Chief Obama proved to be such an abject hypocrite, or relieved that, better late than never, he had morphed into a Bush-Cheney national-security disciple.

The result is that for the next year or so, Obama can more or less do whatever he wishes abroad. If he chooses to bomb a country that poses no direct threat to the U.S. without congressional authority, like Libya, or to assassinate a U.S. citizen-terrorist, like Anwar al-Awlaki, the Left will keep mum. And the Right, for different reasons, probably will, too.

If we get to the scary point of Iran’s going nuclear in 2012, expect the Obama administration — up for reelection and without much of a domestic record to run on in these hard times — to consider a preemptive strike. Be assured that if it does, there will be no outrage in the Democrat-controlled Senate, no campuses on fire, no ad hominem ads in the New York Times — all the sorts of anti-war hysteria that once sought to turn a moderate like George W. Bush into a caricature of some trigger-happy yokel from shoot-’em-up Texas.

And conservatives? Again, they would mumble that an Obama “wag the dog” strike would cynically be all about the president’s reelection. Or they would at least note the irony, given the Nobel Laureate–in–Chief’s prior demonization of Bush’s use of military force. Nonetheless, Republicans would largely grow silent if — a big if — a strike were successful and ended Iran’s nuclear threat.
This is an extraordinary charge Hanson is making here. He's telling us that President Obama is not above risking a massive war with Iran just to extend his tenure in office. If Hanson is right, a prospect I deeply doubt and find hard to accept, it would require the president to be a far more contemptible man than even his most implacable political foes think him to be.

Heretofore, Mr. Obama hasn't shown much of an appetite for military risk. Killing terrorists with Predator drones and bombing Libyan mercenaries are, after all, relatively risk-free ventures. Bombing Iran, on the other hand, would be cataclysmic.

It would almost certainly result in a massive assault by Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas against Israel. It would also trigger terror attacks throughout the Western world. Oil supply lines would be sabotaged and chemical and biological agents might well be unleashed in Western cities.

Does Hanson suggest that President Obama might be the sort of man who would risk all this just to remain in the White House? Does he believe Mr. Obama is willing to accept massive civilian casualties, a possible nuclear war in the Middle East, and the reproach of his Left-wing, anti-war base just to avoid political defeat?

It's troubling to think that serious people have such a view of the president and it's also troubling that the fate of the world could hinge on Mr. Obama's poll numbers next Fall. Would he be willing to roll the dice if it looks like he's headed for electoral ignominy and gamble that a successful strike against Iran would win him the acclaim of the American electorate who might temporarily forget about the miserable economy in the afterglow of a military operation that relieved the world of the threat of Iranian nukes?

Taking out Iran's nukes may turn out, for strategic reasons, to be the right thing to do, but to do it for political reasons would be reprehensible. As much as I disagree with our president I don't believe, pace Hanson, that he's a man who'd sacrifice many thousands of lives for his political career.

The rest of the world better hope I'm right and that Hanson's wrong.

Stiffing the Pipeline, Squandering Jobs

There are good reasons, perhaps, for delaying the decision to construct the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from Alberta to Texas, create twenty thousand jobs, and go a long way toward making us energy independent, but do they outweigh the benefits of constructing the pipeline?

The proposed path of the pipeline was feared to threaten Nebraska's water table, but the pipeline's environmental impact has been studied for 39 months with no compelling evidence that the water would be affected. Nevertheless, President Obama has decided that it needs to be studied some more, until, well, until after the 2012 election.

The Globe and Mail has some details and adds this:
But the delay, which will very likely place a final Keystone decision well after the presidential election a year from now, was the culmination of a remarkable few weeks that saw the president take an increasingly personal interest in the issue. That interest, many observers believe, makes it clear this was a political decision, made by a White House eager to hold on to a base of young environmental-minded voters who were instrumental in handing Barack Obama the presidency.

“It’s blatant politics,” said David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, in an interview Friday. Mr. Wilkins lobbied for Keystone on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “It’s politics at its worst. It was a move by the president to placate a certain wing of his party and I think it was a real travesty.”

Mr. Wilkins pointed out that Mr. Obama had passed up 20,000 Keystone jobs to “protect one job, his own.”
Canadian officials have declared that they're now prepared to build a pipeline to their west coast where the oil will be shipped to China. In other words, the oil is going to be mined. It's going to be shipped, it's going to be burned, and it's going to help the economy of a rapidly growing nation, but that nation won't be the U.S. Moreover, the nation that burns it has far fewer regulations controlling emissions than does the U.S. Thus, environmentalists who oppose the pipeline because they don't want more carbon being spewed into the atmosphere are about to receive a lesson in unintended consequences.

This is not to say that there aren't legitimate concerns about shipping the oil across the United States, but every major project carries with it environmental risks. Building the interstate highway system or dams that harness the energy of moving water or digging a coal mine all create hazards, but the jobs they create and the improvements they make in the quality of life of every American have made those hazards worth risking.

It's hard to believe Mr. Obama sincerely wants to put Americans back to work when he declares a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico that costs tens of thousands of jobs and devastates economies of towns all along the Gulf coast and follows that moratorium with an order to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline that curtails the creation of tens of thousands more jobs.

Would he really play games with peoples' livelihoods just so he can keep his own job? I want to believe that he's a better human being than that, but I'm mystified as to why he's doing the things he's doing when it comes to developing oil resources and energy independence.

Note: The first two paragraphs have been revised since they were posted yesterday.