As we approach the pre-election silly season, I recommend this recent essay by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells as a snapshot of current American political dynamics, and as food for thought as we assess the Obama presidency so far.
In my view, Krugman and Wells make it abundantly clear that a Romney victory, along with any GOP surge in Congress come November, would be potentially catastrophic for the future of the United States as "united states."
But, on the other hand, Mr. Obama's policy of always making it appear that he's the most adult, bipartisan person in the room when it comes to party politics, legislation, and relations with Wall Street has obviously not been successful in terms of moving his agenda forward.
The man is a smooth operator - and, as this piece by Reza Marashi in The National Interest suggests, perhaps too calculating in his approach to the current negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Marashi makes the point - and, in my opinion, all the reports I've seen back it up - that the US will not take "yes" from the Iranians, and keeps "moving the goalposts" on them.
The reason? The upcoming November elections, combined with Israel's (in my opinion, unreasonable) demands that Iran close down its Fordo nuclear installation and abandon all uranium enrichment. Iran seems to be offering to abandon its 20-percent enrichment efforts if the US and friends will end their increasingly devastating economic sanctions and also recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium.
Iran - as opposed to Israel - is a subscriber to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, by the terms of which, of course, it has the legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. And, let's not forget, Iran has yet to develop a nuclear weapon; Israeli intelligence heads have stated their belief that Iran is still years away from being able to do so, if that is indeed Iran's intention -- whereas Israel possesses (but will not admit to) one of the largest nuclear arsenals on the planet. (If you haven't checked it out yet, see the recent Foreign Affairs essay by Kenneth Waltz on why Iran should get the bomb. The resulting balance of power just might bring a better chance of peace.)
But . . . Netanyahu is insisting that Iran have no nuclear program whatsoever; Congress has lined up solidly behind the prime minister of Israel; Mitt Romney will soon be on his way to Jerusalem to be anointed by said prime minister; so Obama dare not "look weak" on the issue of the perfidious mullahs.
As Marashi notes then, Obama is playing for time - trying to kick this can down past the November election. Netanyahu - and Romney - and the white Christian evangelicals upon whom Romney's chances are riding - will be pressing him to take action against Iran . . . .
. . . which he may have to do. With its back to the wall, at what point will Iran's leaders see such action as provocation that needs to be responded to.
That's how big wars start . . . and thousands get killed.