Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Question for Liberals

If Barack Obama is re-elected, what do you expect him to do in Afghanistan? In Iran?

13 comments:

  1. I expect a continual increase of covert/proxy operations against Iran and its technology programs, including nuclear. But I expect that no matter who wins the Presidency. Nothing overt.

    I expect the Afghanistan dwindle-down to continue and for problems for the US and US interests to continue to increase in South Asia generally.

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  2. I imagine a winding down in Afghanistan that will result in US troops leaving before the end of his second term. Both because I think Obama sees Afghanistan as going nowhere and I think he would be very reluctant to hand an open ended war to his successor. Iran is more tricky, but I doubt he would commit the US and his administration to another open ended war in the Middle East. I suspect a continuation of a sort of hybrid containment/isolation strategy that we are seeing now. That is, a continuation of the effort to isolate Iran internationally to prevent it from weaponizing its nuclear program and using covert action to stymie their attempts but not going down the road of all out war. Ultimately the only way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to persuade its leadership that its interests are better served by not developing nuclear weapons. The constant sabre rattling from Jerusalem and the GOP doesn't make this job any easier.

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    1. I agree on Iran if the situation remains basically the same as it is. The problems come from unexpected or uncontrollable events. For instance, what happens if Israel bombs Iran, leaving itself exposed to retaliation? It's one thing to say to Netanyahu "you can't do that," or "that's a really bad idea," or even "we won't stand behind you," beforehand; it's another to sit by and watch Israel get hit even if you think it's at least partially at fault. How Iran would retaliate, I don't know. The form of retaliation could influence the range of U.S. options available. I'm sure it would retaliate somehow, though.

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    2. I agree with your analysis that Iran would retaliate big time. That's why Israel has stood by. For all their stated concern about their existence, Israeli leaders probably calculate that their existence has a better chance if they never strike Iran first.

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    3. Didn't Israel attack Lebanon sometime in the last ten years or so? My recollection is that Hamas had been firing rockets at them from across the border, and they basically lost their temper and invaded. I think there's a number of lawsuits going on relative to that.

      I think it's possible that if Netanyahu goes ahead and bombs Iran, we might yet see an Israeli spring.

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    4. MP, I hope you're right. Here's a sobering view, but not the final word:

      http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/17/zone_of_insanity?page=0,0

      Anon, one thing to keep in mind about the last Lebanese intervention is that it didn't go nearly as well as the Israelis expected.

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    5. Israeli spring? Israel already has one of the most vibrant democratic systems in the world.

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  3. I'd also add to the question: Syria?

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  4. Afghanistan: As Obama has said, he'll pull down to few tens of thousands of troops, maybe in more of a combat role than he says now.

    Iran: Obama has come close to conceding Iran can't be contained, from which it would follow it should be bombed. But Intrade has it that the odds are something like 4-1 against an attack--by Israel and/or the US--before the election and 11-9 against an attack next year. Let us pray the bettors have it right.

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  5. James, those same bettors had it 3-1 that the Supreme Court would overturn the individual mandate...

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  6. No public information was available--there's a fair amount regarding Iran.
    And there is no better basis for prediction. Which pundit would you pick? Why? Which rationale/speculative scenario? Why? Best go with a diversity of viewpoints, from people motivated to inform themselves.

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  7. I think we will exit from Afghanistan but our man-less drones will continue to target terrorist leaders.

    I don't expect us to become involved in a ground war in Iran. Any kind of attack is very risky because of Russia and possibly China becoming involved.

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