So tasty that I would have slapped the red-meat graphic on it if not for the fact that all Bolton posts must be adorned with photos prominently displaying The ‘Stache. (Official Hot Air policy.) I wonder why McCain hasn’t given Bolton a bigger role in his campaign, on the order of what Joe Lieberman has. Granted, there’s a cost in associating with any former Bush official, but my sense is that JB is so well loved by conservatives and flew low enough under the radar as ambassador to the UN that he’d be more of an asset to McCain in bringing the base on board than a liability in scaring off independents, especially if Maverick arranged for some high profile counterbalancing appearances alongside prominent “realists” like, say, James Baker. Then again, my sense of what conservatives do and don’t love or hate derives mainly from what right-wing blog readers do and don’t love and hate, and as we’ve seen in the cases of Fred Thompson and Hillary Clinton, the two sets don’t always perfectly coincide.
Anyway. Dangerous naivete:
Consider the following statement, which was lost in the controversy over his comments about negotiations: “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. … Iran, they spend 1/100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.”…
Had Italy, for example, gone communist during the 1950s or 1960s, it would have been an inconvenient defeat for the United States but a catastrophe for the people of Italy. An “asymmetric” threat to the U.S. often is an existential threat to its friends, which was something we never forgot during the Cold War. Obama plainly seems to have entirely missed this crucial point. Ironically, it is he who is advocating a unilateralist policy, ignoring the risks and challenges to U.S. allies when the direct threat to us is, in his view, “tiny.”
What is implicit in Obama’s reference to “tiny” threats is that they are sufficiently insignificant that negotiations alone can resolve them. Indeed, he has gone even further, arguing that the lack of negotiations with Iran caused the threats: “And the fact that we have not talked to them means that they have been developing nuclear weapons, funding Hamas, funding Hezbollah.”
This is perhaps the most breathtakingly naive statement of all, implying as it does that it is actually U.S. policy that motivates Iran rather than Iran’s own perceived ambitions and interests.
Indeed, a point I’ve made before myself. Who does he think Obama’s prepared to sacrifice, though, on the altar of isolationism? We’re obliged to intervene militarily on behalf of a NATO ally and St. Barack’s already sworn up and down that he won’t let Israel be threatened by Iran. I’m guessing he means Colombia vis-a-vis Chavez and Taiwan vis-a-vis China (and the Koreas?), but, sad to say, I suspect more of the public would prefer an “ah, let ’em have it” Obama negotiated settlement in those cases than a ‘Stachian line in the sand. Plus, any pressure brought to bear now on Obama to commit to intervention in the case of X, Y, or Z ally will only make for opposite pressure on McCain to explain how many interventions worldwide he’s prepared to manage simultaneously to keep our enemies honest. Still a useful op-ed, though, in that it’s aimed transparently at Iran, a subject which both sides agree needs to be addressed and which Obama desperately needs to be more specific about. As I’ve asked before, what is he prepared to give up and not give up once the glorious day of dialogue arrives? What if Iran simply refuses to suspend enrichment while agreeing to make concessions on other matters? What, in other words, is your leverage? Because if this new Rasmussen poll is any indication, the public’s going to want you to have some.
Update: An encouraging sign: When it comes to Israel, he’s willing to go the extra mile and break out a lapel pin.