HOW TO SAVE THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: BOMB IRAN
By Dr. Daniel Pipes
If Obama's personality, identity, and celebrity captivated a majority of the American electorate in 2008, those qualities proved ruefully deficient in 2009 for governing. He failed to deliver on employment and health care, he failed in foreign policy forays small (e.g., landing the 2016 Olympics) and large (relations with China and Japan). His counterterrorism record barely passes the laugh test.
This poor performance has caused an unprecedented collapse in the polls and the loss of three major by-elections, culminating two weeks ago in an astonishing senatorial defeat in Massachusetts. Obama's attempts to "reset" his Presidency will likely fail if he focuses on economics, where he is just one of many players.
He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a lightweight, bumbling ideologue, preferably in an arena where the stakes are high, where he can take charge, and where he can trump expectations.
Such an opportunity does exist: Obama can give orders for the U.S. military to destroy the Iranian nuclear weapon capacity.
Circumstances are propitious. First, U.S. intelligence agencies have reversed their preposterous 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the one that claimed with "high confidence" that Tehran had "halted its nuclear weapons program," No one (other than the Iranian rulers and their agents) denies that the regime is rushing headlong to build a large nuclear arsenal.
Second, if the apocalyptic-minded leaders in Tehran get the Bomb, they render the Middle East yet more volatile and dangerous. They might deploy these weapons in the region, leading to massive death and destruction. Eventually, they could launch an electro-magnetic pulse attack on the United States, utterly devastating the country. By eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama protects the American homeland and sends a message to American's friends and enemies.
Third, polling shows longstanding American backing for an attack on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.
Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg, January, 2006: 57 percent of Americans favor military intervention, if Tehran pursues a program that could enable it to build nuclear arms.
Zogby International, October, 2007: 52 percent of likely voters support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon; 29 percent oppose such a step.
McLaughlin & Associates, May, 2009: asked whether they would support "Using the [U.S.] military to attack and destroy the facilities in Iran which are necessary to produce a nuclear weapon," 58 percent of 600 likely voters supported the use of force and 30 percent opposed it.
Fox News, September, 2009: asked "Do you support or oppose the United States taking military action to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?" 61 percent of 900 registered voters supported military action and 28 opposed it.
Pew Research Center, October, 2009: asked which is more important, "To prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action" or "To avoid a military conflict with Iran, even if it means they may develop nuclear weapons," 1,500 respondents favored the first reply -- 61 percent -- and 24 percent the second reply.
Not only does a strong majority – 57, 52, 58, 61, and 61 percent – already favor using force, but, after a strike, Americans will presumably rally around the flag, jumping that number much higher.
Fourth, were the U.S. strike limited to taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities, and not aspire to regime change, it would require few "boots on the ground" and entail relatively few casualties, making an attack politically more palatable.
Just as 9/11 caused voters to forget George W. Bush's meandering early months, a strike on Iranian facilities would dispatch Obama's feckless first year down the memory hole and transform the domestic political scene. It would sideline health care, prompt Republicans to work with Democrats, make Netroots squeal, Independents reconsider, and Conservatives swoon.
But the chance to do good and do well is fleeting. As the Iranians improve their defenses and approach weaponization, the window of opportunity is closing. The time to act is now, or, on Obama's watch, the world will soon become a much more dangerous place.
© Daniel Pipes 2010
Originally Published in National Review Online, February 2, 2010
Republished with the Permission of Daniel Pipes
Reprinted from the Daniel Pipes Mailing List,February 2, 2010
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Author or co-author of eighteen books, Dr. Pipes is a regular columnist for Front Page Magazine, the New York Sun, and the Jerusalem Post. His analyses of world trends and of forces and developments in the Middle East have appeared in numerous North American newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears on American network television, as well as at universities and think tanks, to discuss the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamist threat to the U.S.A. and the West. He also has appeared on BBC and Al Jazeera, and has lectured in approximately twenty-five countries.
Dr. Pipes is a Polish-American Jew whose parents fled Poland in 1939, immigrated to the U.S.A., and assimilated well into
American society and culture. His father is Richard Pipes, an American historian specializing in Russian and Soviet history
and serving as Professor of History at Harvard University from 1950 until his retirement in 1996. During the Cold War, the
worldview of Richard Pipes was strongly anti-Soviet and anti-Communist.
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