In last weekend’s debate, both Obama and John McCain declared, not for the first time, that the U.S. can not “tolerate” a nuclear Iran. But as Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Polity aptly remarked in his post-debate comments: “for all the tough words, neither candidate even hinted that force was an option on the table. Until we convince Iran’s leaders that America will act if need be, they will continue to believe that we will eventually tolerate the nuclear Iran we now declare to be unacceptable.”I've quoted Michael Oren and Yoram Ettinger on how McCain and Obama differ on Israel and Jerusalem, but on the issue of Iran it could be that talk is as far as either candidate is willing to go.
Clawson remarked that for all the rhetorical differences between the candidates–Obama supporting more direct dialogue, McCain opposing it–the actual policies they offered were fairly similar: “Both supported reinforced diplomacy as the solution, with strengthened sanctions as the central instrument.”
The problem with such a policy is simple: it is not working, and there’s hardly a chance it ever will. The bill passed this week in the House, as symbolically heart-warming as it might be, can do little to make Iran cave (and it’s not even clear if the Senate will take the time to follow through with it). And even more importantly, it is now clear that the next president will be very busy fixing the economy in the first months of his term, leaving little room and energy for dealing with a threat that is very serious, but is also complicated to explain, and has no immediate impact on the daily lives of the American voter.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Do McCain And Obama Agree On Iran?
Shmuel Rosner thinks so. In a post about the Democrats shelving a measure that would require a naval blockade of Iran, Rosner writes about what the presidential candidates said--and did not say--during last week's debate: