Monday, March 5, 2012

Loose talk

From President Obama's speech to AIPAC this week:

I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world.  Already, there is too much loose talk of war.  Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program.  For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster.  Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built.  Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt:  Speak softly; carry a big stick.  And as we do, rest assured that the Iranian government will know our resolve, and that our coordination with Israel will continue.
Maybe because it's an election year; maybe because there is also pressure within the Israeli government to take action against Iran; maybe because people are frustrated over whether sanctions against Iran will be effective; maybe for some other reasons, we are hearing a steady drumbeat for military action against Iran.

Wasn't it only ten years ago that our nation fell victim to a similar drumbeat--only that time it started within the White House--for war against Iraq? And wasn't that drumbeat based on similar fears that that country had acquired, or was about to acquire, weapons of mass destruction? And that if we didn't take action soon, it would be too late to prevent a larger conflict? I'm sure I don't need to remind people that it turned out that no weapons of mass destruction existed. It turned out there was no hurry. It turned out there was no reason not to give inspections and sanctions more chance to work.  

I feel confident that this administration is going to resist the drumbeat building now against Iran. I also feel confident that if we do resort to military action, that action will be based on good intelligence showing that military action is necessary. Whether Americans agree or disagree with the foreign policy actions of the Obama administration, haven't they repeatedly proven--in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria--that they undertake military action, or refrain from doing so, based on realistic assessments of the costs and benefits of using force? They do not bow to political pressure. That means that those who are responsible for the drumbeat (mainly the opposition political party) must know they will not pressure this administration to act. All this loose talk will do is create an issue on which to differentiate Republicans from Democrats.

These opposition political candidates know that they have the luxury of  fanning the flames of war, without having the responsibility to decide whether or not to actually start a war. But they ought to be a bit more careful about misleading the American people, and creating tensions on the other side of the world, merely because that seems expedient for them politically at the moment.

(photo from druminar)


  1. Israel has a real leader and he hates ours. With good reason.

  2. Obama and Netanyahu do not see eye to eye on a lot of things, but hate? I have no reason to think either one hates the other. What makes you think that? And even if they did dislike each other, I think they would try to keep their personal feelings from getting in the way of the historical role they each want to play. The way Carter had issues with Begin but still wanted to make peace between Israel and Egypt. Or Clinton had problems with Arafat but tried desperately to complete a deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

  3. Were you able to watch Netanyahu's address to the AIPAC Monday night? I don't think loose talk from the left or right will have anything to do with him making a decision; or Obama.

    You probably agree, it is a bit eerie how much direct and indirect control Israel's decisions will have over our economy and military in the coming months. I am pretty sure this could extend to our elections as well.