When national security has figured into the presidential nominees’ campaigns, the focus has been mostly on Iran. With that in mind Daniel Byman, the research director for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, asks whether Pakistan, North Korea, China, the Syrian crisis and major US domestic issues can be considered equal to or more dangerous to US interests than the threat posed by Iran:
Where Iran ranks on this list is an open question. The clerical regime in Tehran is openly hostile to the United States and its regional allies. Yet its leadership seems more rational than what we’ve seen in North Korea, the country is less chaotic than Pakistan (to say nothing of Syria), and of course its military and economic power are a pale shadow of China’s. None of this means Iran can be ignored, but it also means that as we evaluate candidates we need to think beyond the crisis of the moment. We also need to recognize the limits on our power, and any president will have to decide how much to push the American people in pursuit of his foreign policy objectives. Some, perhaps all, of the challenges above have no good solutions (and often we’ll only know what was a foolish idea in hindsight), but all of them deserve scrutiny as candidates present their case to the American people that they can best keep our country safe and ensure that the United States remains a world leader.