In mid-September, the predictions were dour.
President Obama’s stance on strikes against Syria was not just unpopular (with more than 70 percent of the public opposing intervention without congressional approval), it was a disaster. His willingness to engage in military action in the Middle East “threatened to undermine” his entire presidency, The analysis didn’t become any more optimistic as the president avoided strikes in favor of a deal that seems to be headed toward the destruction of Syria’s entire arsenal of chemical weapons.
Less than three months later, Secretary of State John Kerry joined with diplomats from five allies to strike a short-term deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment, hindering its progress toward being able to build a nuclear weapon.
This week, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) outlined the hardline alternative to the president’s negotiations: “I don’t think it’s inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it, with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”
What would the public think about Hunter’s proposal?
Only 20 percent of Americans support military action against Iran, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey — even if this temporary deal doesn’t result in a permanent agreement to stop the Persian nation’s progress toward nuclear arms.
If the deal fails, 49 percent want to step up sanctions and 31 percent would support further diplomacy. Americans support the interim deal by a 2-1 margin.
When it comes to Iran, Republicans are even more out of step with the public than the president was on Syria. Still, the cries from the press that this is going to doom the party that brought us the Iraq War are nonexistent.
Instead the hawks discredited by a decade of wars that only empowered Iran as it freely developed its nuclear program are drowning out the public opposition to any military action. And some Democrats in the Senate seem poised to enable those hawks to possibly even destroy any hope of a permanent deal.
When President Obama was considering strikes against Syria, Republicans highlighted the anti-war voices in their fold, like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). But now that Paul is willing to give a deal a chance, they’re saying he wants to “obliterate” Israel.
The public doesn’t want a war in Iran any more than it did in Syria. The lesson of Iraq was that the blowback of war is worse than the war itself.
Experts believe an attack on Iran would only rush efforts to build a nuclear bomb and even a war may not be enough to stop its progress, as conservative columnist George F. Will, a rare pro-diplomacy voice on the right, notes.
The media amplified the public’s voice in September when it was to Republican advantage. It’s doing the opposite today and we should ask, “Why?”
AFP Photo/Jewel Samad