In the flood of news over the ObamaCare bill, the issue of Iran has mainly drifted to the background. Iran hasn’t paused in its bid for nuclear hegemony over the Middle East, however, and the foreign policy of the US over the last year has been at best suicidally naive about the impact of the “outstretched hand.” Now a Democrat has staked out a hawkish position on the issue, demanding that the use of force be one of the publicly-discussed options in dealing with Iran:
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said Sunday that the White House needs to consider the use of force against Iran to keep the country from getting nuclear weapons.
Bayh, speaking at a roundtable discussion on the opening day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, said that the administration should go through the motions of proceeding with planned tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but cautioned that they probably wouldn’t work and that the White House should be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
“We need to go forward with aggressive sanctions that are likely to hurt the regime… but that’s unlikely to work,” Bayh said. “Now we have to turn to contemplate the final option — the use of force to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”
“…In the long run, you have to do what you have to do,” he said.
Bayh announced his retirement from the Senate after expressing frustration with the gridlock in Washington. A former Governor, Bayh intimated that he was more temperamentally suited to executive office. This sounds like Bayh positioning himself for a primary run against Barack Obama in 2012, perhaps hoping to capture the old Scoop Jackson turf as a national-security Democrat.
The Hill points out the possibility in its reporting. Bayh openly warned about the perceived “lack of resolve” in the current US approach to Iran, and praised Israel’s forbearance and courage. The issue of Israel has significant resonance at AIPAC at the moment after seeing the White House conduct a public scolding of the Netanyahu government that may have set back both Israeli-US relations and Israeli-Palestinian talks 20 years.
As it turns out, Bayh’s timing is impeccable. While the American media mainly ignores the Iranian involvement in the Af-Pak theater, the Times of London reported it again yesterday:
TALIBAN commanders have revealed that hundreds of insurgents have been trained in Iran to kill Nato forces in Afghanistan.
The commanders said they had learnt to mount complex ambushes and lay improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have been responsible for most of the deaths of British troops in Helmand province.
The accounts of two commanders, in interviews with The Sunday Times, are the first descriptions of training of the Taliban in Iran.
According to the commanders, Iranian officials paid them to attend three-month courses during the winter.
The administration’s weak response to Iranian nuclear efforts is certainly not discouraging Tehran from assisting our enemies in Af-Pak. Bayh may figure that Obama’s vulnerable on foreign policy and national security. Keep an eye on Bayh.