“Santorum nonetheless shifted to more serious foreign policy topics such as Iran toward the end of his remarks.
By BILL KELLER
Published: January 22, 2012
“…In the Republican field we have one candidate (Rick Santorum) who is about as close as you can get to the bomb-sooner-rather-than-later extreme, another (Ron Paul) who is at the let-Iran-be-Iran extreme, and Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are in between. Of particular interest is Romney, who has performed the same rhetorical trick with Iran that he did with health care. That is, he condemns Obama for doing pretty much what Romney would do…”
“…American policy has been consistent through the Bush and Obama administrations: (1) a declaration that a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable”; (2) a combination of sticks (sanctions) and carrots (supplies of nuclear fuel suitable for domestic industrial needs in exchange for forgoing weapons); (3) unfettered international inspections; (4) a refusal to take military options off the table; (5) a concerted effort to restrain Israel from attacking Iran unilaterally — beyond the Israelis’ presumed campaign to slow Iran’s progress by sabotage and assassination; and (6) a wish that Iran’s hard-liners could be replaced by a more benign regime, tempered by a realization that there is very little we can do to make that happen. This is also the gist of Romney’s Iran playbook, for all his bluster about Obama the appeaser…”
“…The point of tough sanctions, of course, is to force Iranians to the bargaining table, where we can do a deal that removes the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran. (You can find some thoughts on what such a deal might entail on my blog.) But the mistrust is so deep, and the election-year pressure to act with manly resolve is so intense, that it’s hard to imagine the administration would feel free to accept an overture from Tehran. Anything short of a humiliating, unilateral Iranian climb-down would be portrayed by the armchair warriors as an Obama surrender. Likewise, if Israel does decide to strike out on its own, Bibi Netanyahu knows that candidate Obama will feel immense pressure to go along.
That short-term paradox comes wrapped up in a long-term paradox: an attack on Iran is almost certain to unify the Iranian people around the mullahs and provoke the supreme leader to redouble Iran’s nuclear pursuits, only deeper underground this time, and without international inspectors around. Over at the Pentagon, you sometimes hear it put this way: Bombing Iran is the best way to guarantee exactly what we are trying to prevent.
Cassi Creek: Just what we need now, another unfunded un-winnable war against an Islamic state demanded by the teavangelists.
There’s every chance for a shooting war to develop between Iran and us. The Pentagon has gamed out every potential play for every predictable scenario. No matter how it games out, the plans become trash to be shredded once the first border is violated, the first bullets fired by some trigger-happy would-be-martyr, and the first missile fired by some Revolutionary Guards Navy officer. That, of course, ignores the point that we are already unofficially at war with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Don’t forget Santorum’s religion. With the xenophobic, anti-Islamic support of the redneck pulpit pounding teavangelists, he seems as willing to start another crusade, as do the mullahs of Iran who brand the U.S. and Israel as eternal enemies of Iran.
Of course, it is easier to start a war if you have no personal risk of being invited to dance. Our all-volunteer armed forces backed up by expensive mercenary companies owned by friends of Congress fills its dance card as soon as the doors are open. Recent history shows us that we don’t and won’t have the personnel strength to take part in another round of foreign-soil adventurism.
We’re correct in believing that we need to keep the sea-lanes open. But we need to make it plain to all the industrialized nations that their navies are invited to the party as well. Since we don’t buy Iranian oil we shouldn’t sponsor the dance, particularly that contingent of dancers who took off our national uniform to put on a corporate costume.
Santorum, Gingrich, and two generations of Americans have avoided most forms of military service while pushing for wars to control oil and other commodities used by speculators to pile up fortunes that are larger than the combined treasuries of Central America. They view war as video games played on a larger screen by people who can’t afford to play them electronically. They consider the current KIA and WIA totals as horrific. Their concept of wars is sanitized and is played out remotely. Thus, they demand that Americans join yet another crusade stirred up by hate mongers and demagogues who find it all too easy to push the teavangelists into believing that forcing school prayer onto the public and cheering for posturing athletes will convince Jesus to intercede in a war with Iran while simultaneously restoring jobs to the American Middle class.
That isn’t the way it is. The number of men and women we’ve lost in combat may be smaller than in previous wars but they were important to their families and to their shipmates and squad mates. The nature of a war with Iran over nuclear weaponry will be much different than the drone strikes and small unit battles we see on television today. The body counts on both sides will outstrip the imagination of the politicians who let the teavangelists push them into supporting yet another war for corporations.
There’s a very good reason I think our politicians should be required to serve in our combat branches. Its explanation begins with a five-letter word, “Medic!"