UPDATE: Alas, it is true that he has a spine of overcooked pasta. He doesn't even know how to turn aggressive overreaching by his opponents to his advantage. Pitiful.
. . . Several U.S. senators had gathered at the Halifax International Security Forum, an annual gathering that is the brainchild of Peter MacKay, Canada's defense minister. One of them, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, immediately put President Obama on notice.
Resurgent Republicans would be looking for him to "be tough with Iran beyond sanctions." If it came to war, the United States should "sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime."
Sure, Graham conceded, "you can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose." Another war is the "last thing America wants." But a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable and containment "off the table."
This is dangerous talk from an influential Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee. The United States, in its current depleted state, cannot afford another war in a Muslim country. It cannot find itself fighting across a 2,000-mile front stretching through Arab, Persian and Central Asian worlds. You could forget about the tenuous progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Iran can flick switches. From Lebanon to Gaza, on Israel's borders, tensions would boil.
But Graham's words were instructive. The pressure on Obama from Congress is going to grow. David Broder of the Washington Post even suggested recently that a war in Iran might spur the U.S. economy, just as World War II did.
The United States does not need the stimulus package from hell. This is a moment of great American uncertainty, a volatile passage. Sunni Pakistan has nukes and Al Qaeda. Shiite Iran has neither. It would be tragic to ignore the lessons of Iraq, stumble onto a war train armed with flimsy evidence, and imagine Iran is close to a bomb when there's no conclusive evidence it's made the decision to build one. Remember, the mullahs love ambiguity. It's their element, along with maddening inertia. To risk "breakout" is to risk the Islamic Republic. Hence the waiting-for-Godot aspects of their nuclear zigzag.
When I heard those words — "neuter that regime" — what I saw was a shattered body in Tampa. A third U.S war is inconceivable.