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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why Obama won't strike Iran

The scariest part about this article is how true it appears to be. Michael Brenner seems to have Obama pegged.
These telltales of military action notwithstanding, there are reasons for skepticism that Barack Obama will pull the trigger. They are rooted in his political character. Its two most prominent traits are an absence of conviction and a lack of policy/political courage. The past year has provided abundant evidence to confirm this contention. Together, they militate strongly against high risk behavior. What line of reasoning leads to this judgment?


On foreign policy, he operates without a finely etched cognitive map. There is no overarching strategy or underlying philosophy. He navigates with few or any fixed reference points. Images of him as a strong willed person with dedicated purpose are belied by his conduct on every matter of consequence — domestic as well as international.


Yet, despite the Pentagon’s exalted standing in White House eyes, the outcome will not accord with their importuning advice. That is not because of any onset of foreign policy wisdom in the White House. The key is Obama’s personality. His much noted aversion to confrontation is one element. A deep seated reluctance to do anything that could put his political fortunes beyond his control is another element. He is by nature an undeviating partisan of the path of least resistance. Obama has neither the temperament nor the stomach to be a war president. The presidential commands to shoot at half dozen Somalis in an open boat, to fire cruise missiles into the wilds of northern Yemen or to ramp up drone attacks in Waziristan require little more than Nintendo game bravura. Even the Afghan escalation was treated more as an exercise in intra-mural politics than a grave historic decision. A statesman feeling that his country’s fate rests in his hands does not senselessly set dates for exit strategies and map off-ramps before his escalated campaign has even begun. Nor does he allow senior officials to contradict him within days in ways that dissolve his authority in Washington while shredding his credibility among parties in the region parties. Moreover, Obama could commit to Afghanistan in the confidence that whatever happened, the outcome could be spun. Short of an improbable decisive defeat, there would always be opportunity to craft the narrative and to skew the meaning of what happened.

Iran is of a different order. The Iranians are stubborn and willful. Instinctively, Obama may realize that they are more Bibi Netanyahu than Mahmoud Abbas. War there opens a Pandora’s box. It would be militarily uncontrollable, diplomatically uncontrollable, and — above all — politically uncontrollable. Confidence in the power of spin could reach its limits. Obama’s political future itself could spin out of his control. Those disconcerting realities are to be avoided at almost all costs. What of the costs encountered in stymieing his generals? Of offending hawkish sentiment at home and in the Middle East?
Read the whole thing.

The current occupant of the White House doesn't have the brass parts to make a decision to attack Iran. The President of the United States is a wimp.


At 5:27 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama has learned from Bush that waging a war can be a double-edged sword. The same public that lauds your victories can turn on you in an instant if things should happen to go wrong. Obama wants to be popular at all costs. So that means not fighting battles that will get the greatest number of people made at him. Yeah so he's not a war President. But better be popular than be disliked. His strategy is clear.


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