Last week we ran David Bromwich‘s argument that Obama had so painted himself into the corner on his Iran rhetoric that he may have to go to war:
Has Obama then put off a war in the fall by committing us to war in the spring?… We are at a moment when a president with an ounce of invention could move the consensus in this country, and legitimate a stance of containment rather than imminent war.
Well here are two Israel lobbyists affirming Bromwich’s point. Martin Indyk says that we’ll have to go to war next year. “Speaking during a panel discussion Sunday on the CBS program Face the Nation, Indyk said: ‘I’m afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.’”
Indyk expressed confidence that whichever president is elected will attack Iran in 2013, saying that even though “Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon” such a war could at best be put off another six months.
Indyk also sought to downplay the recent split between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the difference “isn’t that great” and that when push comes to shove Obama will follow through on his “commitment” with the war.
This reflects yesterday’s claim by Ambassador Susan Rice that there is “no daylight” between Obama and Netanyahu
And Jeffrey Goldberg, who likes to say that he’s never come out for war on Iran (no, he keeps tiptoeing up to the line then dancing back with a smirk on his face; two years back he wrote very hopefully that Israel was going to attack Iran by spring 2011), echoes Indyk at his blog. He’s telling Bromwich and the rest of us, Obama is not allowed to contain Iran.
Obama understands that his presidency will be judged a failure if Iran goes nuclear. He has gone on record many times promising the American people, and the world, that Iran will not get a bomb. If Iran succeeds, he will have failed, catastrophically. His legacy will be shattered, his credibility will be destroyed, and he will bequeath to his party a reputation for weakness and fecklessness that will not be shed for a generation. For these reasons alone, Obama knows he cannot let Iran go nuclear.
This is absurd. Politicians change their minds all the time. Obama could decide on containment. As Bill Keller has decided on containment.
After immersing myself in the expert thinking on both sides, I think that, forced to choose, I would swallow hard and take the risks of a nuclear Iran over the gamble of a pre-emptive war. My view may be colored by a bit of post-Iraq syndrome.