President Obama has repeatedly said all options, including military force, are on the table to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. But in a piece today, Vox’s Ezra Klein suggest a lot of liberals would prefer a nuclear Iran to a war to prevent a nuclear Iran and, secretly, they think the President already agrees with them.
In the midst of a critique of Hillary Clinton’s interventionist tendencies, Klein suggests the liberal base doesn’t take Obama’s professed hawkishness on Iran very seriously.
There are a lot of liberals out there who would prefer a nuclear Iran to
a war with Iran. Many of them believe, rightly or wrongly, that
President Obama quietly agrees with them. Clinton does not agree with
them, and they’re going to know it.
Klein returns to this idea later in the piece, implicitly comparing it to Obama’s stance on gay marriage:
One advantage Obama had in the Democratic primary was that even
when he rhetorically moved towards the middle his liberal base didn’t
really buy it; his repeated assertions that he opposed gay marriage were
never taken very seriously by his supporters, for instance.
As the NY Times has reported in detail, it’s not clear that Obama was ever really against gay marriage but for a time the politics made it wise for him to pretend he was. Is the President playing the same political game with Iran’s nuclear ambitions?
Not everyone thinks so. In 2012 the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg put together a collection of 20 statements in which the President sounded a hawkish note on Iran. Goldberg called it a “crystal clear” promise that the President would stop Iran from getting the bomb. The President has continued to make similar noises since then. Last November he told AFP, “we do not want Iran having nuclear weapons.”
Meanwhile, Iran continues to play for time and for doing the minimum to avoid further U.S. intervention. It recently asked for and got an extension of talks between itself and the United States. Senators Rubio and Paul criticized the decision to extend negotiations. Rubio called it a “dangerous national security failure.”
While their perspectives are very different, GOP Senators seem to agree with the liberals Ezra Klein is talking about, i.e. neither group thinks President Obama is taking the threat of a nuclear Iran very seriously.