George Bush has decided to use Iran as a foil to help his sagging poll numbers and to help Republicans in the fall congressional elections. I'm going to discuss why this is true, and what the Dems should do about it.
Iran is ten years away from developing nukes.
I'll say it again, TEN YEARS away. And that's not according to some peacenik liberal, it's according to the best estimate of US intelligence
From the US State Department's own Web site:
Iran is likely years away from producing weapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium. Vice Adm. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2005 that Iran is expected to be able to produce a weapon early next decade. According to one report, the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran assesses that it will be ten years before Iran has a bomb.
So why, suddenly, in the second week of April, 2006, have we found ourselves in a media feeding frenzy of speculation over whether the US will be soon be launching a massive (possibly nuclear) attack on Iran to eliminate an "impending" nuclear threat that won't appear until 2016?
And why are we allowing to go unchallenged the idea that it would be all right to attack another nation if it did have nuclear weapons? Or (in some people's talking points and MoveOn's Email) that it might be all right to attack another country as long as we don't use nuclear weapons to do so? MoveOn says that a conventional attack would probably be a disaster. No. It would be a crime. It is illegal, immoral, and destructive in every way for one nation to attack another, no matter what weapons it possesses. And let's drop the pretense in any case that we would be attacking because of weapons. The US attacked Iraq and would attack Iran because they do NOT have weapons. If they did, the US would no more attack them than we are attacking Korea. The key point here is that the US should respect international law and stop launching aggressive wars, not that we should wait until Iran has weapons.
Iran is a convenient way to change the subject
The answer is that Iran is a convenient way for the Bush administration to get America's attention off of the Iraq debacle, rising gas prices, Valerie Plame, New Orleans lost, Republican corruption, the massive budget deficit, and a growing number of revelations of how Bush lied to the American people in trying to sell them on the Iraq war.
Start saber-rattling about how Iran is going to nuke America's babies, and people may very well forget all the other problems on their plate.
Bringing up Iran now is a convenient way to help Republicans in the fall congressional elections
But in reality it's much more likely to hurt them.
There's a second benefit to this strategy as well. Bush can again look presidential - the strong leader taking on more evil dark-skinned false-god worshippers. Bush's hope is that all of this will help the Republicans sagging poll numbers, and thus help them retain the House and Senate in the fall.
Bush is also hoping that going to war in Iran, like the war in Iraq, will divide Democrats. Some Dems will have the courage to say publicly that the Bush administration can't be trusted with a war in Iran, while other Dems will fear looking too dove-ish if they take on Bush. All Bush and the congressional Republicans need to do is bring up the Iran war resolution in September, right before the elections, and hope the Democrats fall apart.
So how should Democrats respond to the issue of Iran's nuclear threat?