Billy Kristol, neocons and those on the right who subscribe to his views on Iran derive a great deal of pleasure out of insinuating that Obama is a coward and without the spine to deal with countries that threaten our strategic interests such as Iran. Kristol recently criticized Obama's New Year's message to Iran as a sign of weakness in the Weekly Standard.
I detest this sort of commentary, where the goal is partisan death dealing, not careful analysis of critical issues of national security. Kristols goal is to tear down the administration, rather than a cogent critique of the admnistration's behavior.
The folks at Stratfor however point out the following:
Two things were clear to the Bush administration in 2007: first, that the United States had to make a deal with the Iraqi Sunni nationalist insurgents; and second, that while the Iranians might not be able to impose a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, Tehran had enough leverage with enough Iraq Shiite factions to disrupt Iraq, and thus disrupt the peace process. Therefore, without an understanding with Iran, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be difficult and full of potentially unpleasant consequences, regardless of who is in the White House.
In other words, there is no successful drawdown of forces in Iraq without addressing the issue of Iran's involvement there. Geopolitics is more complicated than the simple dichotomy of friend or foe that Kristol wants to impose on Obama. The Iranians, like us, have national security interests which they consider paramount and worth spending blood and treasure over. We are in no position to initiate a war with Iran and the consequences of doing so would be quite grave and not in the interests of the United States. Thats not a statement that we would lose the fight. There is not an enemy we can't defeat in combat, but combat is not the appropriate or most productive solution to every geopolitical problem.
Kristol's goading of decision makers and all those on the right who play the same silly game is irresponsible. Further its hypocritical. The Bush administration cut deals with the Sunni's who were killing American soldiers to create a strategic wedge between them and the terrorists. That strategy was successful and you don't see Kristol calling Bush's manhood into question over it. Obama changes the tone towards Iran and that means now the US is weak. Nevermind that with a resurgent Russia, there are cogent reasons to pursue a tonal change. Never mind that other than the change in tone, Obama's policy towards Iran is unchanged from the Bush administration position. Don't bother Kristol with facts like that though.
It irritates me that people like Kristol play partisan games with national security issues and do it in such an ill informed, juvenile manner to boot. Conservatives should keep their powder dry on such issues and issue relevant critiques where they are warranted. In this case, their not.