Analyst and Time editor Tony Karon has a piece up at Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper about the likely effects of Tuesday’s mid-term elections on Barack Obama’s foreign policy, due to the predicted Republican takeover of the House (and possibly Senate).
Karon’s headline screams that the elections are likely to “clip Obama’s wings in the Middle East.” As for Iran, Karon strikes a more nuanced stance. Yes, the elections could result in pressure on Obama for escalating measures against Iran, but the prospect of war with the Islamic Republic (and airstrikes means a war) will remain dim as long as Obama is in the driver’s seat.
Another [area of agreement between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment, who are both expected to send comrades to Washington] is the idea that the administration needs to get more confrontational on Iran.
Indeed, if Mr Obama were a truly cynical politician (and there are no signs yet that he is) he might recognise that he’d find it easier achieving bipartisan cooperation through military confrontation with Iran than by seeking rapprochement with a regime that most of Washington is never going to trust.
Still, mindful of the dangers of dragging an overburdened empire into yet another potentially catastrophic war, Mr Obama remains likely to resist pressure to attack Iran. But just as his already limited ability to respond to the deep crisis in the US economy will be further limited after tomorrow, so has there been a decline over the past decade in Washington’s ability to project influence to resolve complex problems in the Middle East. The harsh reality for Mr Obama is that the Middle East’s key power players are no more inclined to do his bidding these days than are the Republicans who look set to take charge of the House of Representatives.