Senator Joe Lieberman today declared that the US could certainly conduct the war in Iraq as well as militarily engage Iran, all the while continuing our efforts in Afghanistan. Why? Because "we have the most powerful military in the history of the world." No doubt. But no one can deny that THE INDIVIDUAL HUMAN BEINGS who make up that military are stretched thin as it is. It's so easy to fall back on the old, "the US military is the greatest" declaration to avoid discussing where will we get the people to wear the uniforms? (the draft?), how will we pay them? (with all of our super duper tax cuts?), and are we really prepared to use the nuclear option (the thought of which makes Bill Frist's use of the term refer to filibustering appointees almost as bad as using the word "plantation").
The reason for our dick swinging these days is, of course, Iran and their attempts to create a bomb within the next 5-10 years. The problem is real and it would be great if someone could just realistically discuss the options, the costs, and the reality that we will all have to face to deal with it.
Enter John McCain.
John McCain today called Iran's nuclear program "the most serious crisis we have faced - outside of the entire war on terror - since the end of the Cold War." He is absolutely right. And he is also absolutely right when he supports the move to press for sanctions before the UN Security Council on the theory that it will force Russia and China to take sides.
This is huge. It doesn't seem to be getting as much media as it ought to warrant, though. Maybe because we are so inured at this point to religio-political figures from the Middle East (being careful to note that Iranians are Persians, not Arabs) threatening us with grievous national harm that we are tuning them out? Maybe because some people think that the solution is for Israel to change some elements of its policies, including its own nuclear potential? (Never mind that we don't ask Britain and other allies to disarm themselves while another country vows to "wipe them [Israel] off the map"). Maybe because we think this is just Ahmadinejad doing a little sabre-rattling as he enjoys his Saddam-free and drama-filled role as the new pre-eminent power in the region?
Whichever one it is, this is not going to end well, and we need to start taking notice of this very real and present danger. Or, as Senator McCain so eloquently put it: Until the U.S. develops energy independence, "we better understand the vulnerabilities that the economy and our very lives have when we're dependent on Iranian mullahs and wackos in Venezuela."
Is it 2008 yet?
ps--in an interesting sidenote from The Scotsman that reminds us that our black-and-white perceptions of Israelis, Arabs and Iranians are oversimplistic and lacking in depth:
"Tensions between the two countries are given a bizarre twist by the fact that several senior Israelis are from Iran. Mr Mofaz was born in Garmsar, south-east of Tehran, as was the hardline Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". And he is advised by Dan Halutz, Israel's former air-force commander and now chief of staff, whose parents were born in Iran. Moshe Katsav, Israel's president, is another Iranian-born Farsi-speaker."