Election 2008 Foreign Policy Obama Politics The Clintons

A Hypothetical Question of Judgment

JFK alone at his desk in the Oval Office

[digg-reddit-me]It’s early spring 2012. The most recent National Intelligence Estimate and the intelligence communities agree that Iran is less than a year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Daily leaks to the press from the national security apparatus provide the now familiar drumbeat of fear as a prelude to a war. Karl Rove – retired in Texas but being consulted by those planning a Republican comeback – begins to ask the question: “Who let Iran go nuclear?” He makes it clear – as does the Republican presidential nominee – that it was the job of the current president to prevent Iran from going nuclear. “Do you feel safer now than you did four years ago?” they ask.

Every morning, the first two items on the president’s agenda are:

  1. A status report on the Iranian situation;
  2. An update on how the election campaign is progressing.

The pressure to take dramatic action is building, as much from domestic political pressures as foreign actions. Military action could be catastrophic, although it still might be the best of available options. Although it is never discussed, it is understood that a war would practically guarantee the president’s victory in November – despite a shaky economy that the Republicans have largely been able to blame on the current president.

Every morning, the president must balance the options and calibrate American strategy. There are no black and white issues – and in the end, the decision is on his or her shoulders alone.

It’s 2012 – whose judgment do you trust to make the right decision?

Updated: Let me be clear – as far as I’m concerned, the correct answer is, to borrow a line from Fox Mulder, “Trust no one.”  Which is why I think it is important to support a candidate who seeks to reduce executive power and allow the traditional checks and balances to reassert themselves.

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