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.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.
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 Moveon.org 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.
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.