Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stars are Aligning

It seems like the stars are aligning for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Negotiations to end Iran's drive for nuclear weapons-related capabilities are going nowhere, with Iran refusing even to pretend to cooperate.

Cyber-war may have reached its limits, requiring more kinetic means. I find it hard to believe that our administration would make such blatantly politically motivated leaks if these programs really had legs. I find it easier to believe the leaks were done because the programs are believed to have run their course.

Israel may have reached their limits of tolerance, meaning pressure is on us to really do the job right.

Our election is coming up and a demonstration of presidential martial resolve couldn't hurt the president.

And if that isn't enough, we have the new global oil situation, with new production, high US oil reserves (and I expect that is true globally), prospects of lagging demand, and the ending of our money-printing policies that have raised oil prices the last several years.

This makes the worry that a strike on Iran will do more than create a short-term spike in oil prices until all those factors reassure markets that enough oil will flow.

Western refusal to really confront Iran over their nuclear ambitions may have lulled the Iranians into thinking we will never stop them. Our efforts to convey to the Iranians that this time we are serious may thus have history working against us.

Every election, we are told to beware an October surprise (remember how that horrible excuse for a Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in 2004 she wouldn't be surprised if Bush had Osama bin Laden on ice waiting to reveal him for reeelction purposes?). This time there might be enough good reasons to strike Iran to make political reasons for striking an acceptably low portion of the decision chain.

I really think Iran's mullahs should worry. Our president would settle for an agreement that appears to force Iran to blink if the reality isn't apparent until mid-November. If he can't get that, he could order strikes without too much worry that the political motives will seem paramount to all but a smaller minority of voters.