Obama or Romney? Who’s most likely to start a war against Iran?

Glenn Greenwald writes: When it comes to praising President Obama’s foreign policy skill and Toughness (in the neocon sense of that term: i.e., a willingness to risk other people’s lives with the use of military force against foreigners), The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg has been one of the most reliable and vocal voices. Considered by Obama aides “as the ‘official therapist’ of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Goldberg has been particularly important in vouching for Obama to Israelis and American Jews on the ground that nobody will be Tougher on Iran than Obama (in return for this service, Goldberg — like all helpful journalists are — has been rewarded by the White House with substantial career-boosting access). In his Bloomberg column this morning, Goldberg argues that Israeli officials should pray for Obama’s victory in the November election, and makes this argument in support:

On the matter of Iran, however, Netanyahu would be wrong to root for Romney. Barack Obama is the one who’s more likely to confront Iran militarily, should sanctions and negotiations fail. He has committed himself to stopping Iran by any means necessary, and he has a three-year record as president to back his rhetoric. Romney has only rhetoric, and he would be hamstrung in many ways if he chose military confrontation.

He goes on to argue that despite the GOP challenger’s Tough rhetoric, “Romney would face several critical challenges in a conflict with Iran that Obama would not”; specifically:

Romney, by all accounts, is uninterested in inheriting the mantle of President George W. Bush, who invaded two Muslim countries and lost popularity and credibility as a result. Romney, despite his rhetoric, is more of a pragmatist than Bush, and far more cautious. An attack on Iran is an incautious act, one that even Bush rejected.

The unilateral use of force in the Middle East for a liberal Democrat like Obama is a credential; for a conservative Republican like Romney, it could be an albatross. I argued in a previous column that Romney is more likely than Obama to oversee a revitalized Middle East peace process. That’s because conservatives are better positioned to make peace; liberals are generally better positioned to launch preventive strikes at the nuclear programs of rogue nations. We know that U.S. voters, and world leaders, allow Obama extraordinary leeway when it comes to deadly drone strikes, precisely because of his politics, character and background. (We are talking about a man, after all, who won the Nobel Peace Prize while ordering the automated killing of suspected Muslim terrorists around the world.) Romney will get no comparative slack.

In other words, Obama will be freer to attack Iran than Romney would be because Democrats, progressives, and the “international community” (that’s neocon for: Europeans) passively accept or even cheer for violence, aggression and executive power abuses when ordered by a sophisticated, urbane, Constitutional Law Professor with Good Progressivism in his heart, and only cause a messy ruckus when done by an icky, religious, overtly nationalistic Republican. [Continue reading…]

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