George Friedman of STRATFOR has offered a unique take on what he refers to as a “dual crisis” – Afghanistan and Iran – awaiting action from the President. To cut to the chase, his prescription for the President is as follows:
On pure logic, history or politics aside, the best course is to strike Iran and withdraw from Afghanistan. That would demonstrate will in the face of a significant challenge while perhaps reshaping Iran and certainly avoiding a drawn-out war in Afghanistan.
To reach this conclusion – more a strategic determination than a prediction or even a recommendation- Friedman systematically analyzes each problem in its broad political and military dimensions, and then takes apart the “four permutations” (fight/fight, flee/flee, fight/flee, flee/fight) of the major decisions that, in his opinion, Obama cannot delay any longer, since in each case delay itself will increasingly amount to having made the choice in effect to flee (withdraw, retreat, surrender, acquiesce, etc.).
Up until recently, the betting has been in the opposite direction: Obama policy has seemed to consist of “fight” in Afghanistan combined with the equivalent of “flight” from any confrontation with Iran. The former was Obama’s express commitment going back to the presidential campaign and resting on years of Democratic criticism, as re-affirmed repeatedly since the inauguration. As for Iran, Obama has seemed willing or even determined to temporize to the point of giving in on a nuclear Iran unless Israeli action or some other event substantially alters the situation.
More could be said about Friedman’s assumptions and analysis, but for now I’ll just point to a paragraph that touches directly on a point discussed under the last CotD. Here’s Friedman’s encapsulation of Iran’s strategic position and main objectives vis-a-vis the U.S.:
In Iran, Ahmadinejad clearly perceives that challenging Obama is low-risk and high reward. If he can finally demonstrate that the United States is unwilling to take military action regardless of provocations, his own domestic situation improves dramatically, his relationship with the Russians deepens, and most important, his regional influence — and menace — surges. If Obama accepts Iranian nukes without serious sanctions or military actions, the American position in the Islamic world will decline dramatically. The Arab states in the region rely on the United States to protect them from Iran, so U.S. acquiescence in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons would reshape U.S. relations in the region far more than a hundred Cairo speeches.
I find the above to be a nicely stated summary that gets at the shape of the threat instead of fixating on arbitrary or unlikely scenarios.
h/t: Powerline Blog