|Iranian copies Babe Ruth?|
Now that Iran has threatened violent retaliation against U.S. citizens (including president Obama's family), is the president going to back down? It wouldn't be the first time he has backed down with respect to Iran. Back during Iran's Green Revolution, when people were being killed in the streets by government thugs, Obama blinked, several times. He also gulped audibly, I'm quite sure. It didn't go unnoticed in Iran, where the leadership has clearly been emboldened by his inactions of the past.
In an unusually harsh statement, Iran has stepped up its game.
Alireza Forghani, the former governor of southern Iran’s Kish Province, threw down the gauntlet last week. Forghani is an analyst and strategy specialist in the supreme leader’s camp and closely aligned with Mehdi Taeb, who heads the regime’s Ammar Strategic Base, a radical think thank, and thus speaks with the blessing of the Islamic regime.“Hopefully Obama will be pigheaded enough to attack Syria, and then we will see the … loss of U.S. interests [through terrorist attacks],” he threatened. “In just 21 hours [after the attack on Syria], a family member of every U.S. minister [department secretary], U.S. ambassadors, U.S. military commanders around the world will be abducted. And then 18 hours later, videos of their amputation will be spread [around the world].”
It could be bluster, or they honestly believe they can really hurt U.S. interests. It seems like the former is the case though. Otherwise, why go Babe Ruth and call the shot before undertaking terrorist activities? The U.S. has shut down embassies in anticipation of activities based on intercepted communications. Recently, in fact. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to divert security forces to protect those mentioned as targets. So it sure seems more like bluster.
What's a president to do? It would not be surprising for Obama to blink again. In fact handing the decisioning off to Congress, he has blinked already. In saying he didn't draw the red line he was just echoing others, he blinked again. Iranians probably realize this and in anticipation, have set themselves up to look like they've stared down the Great Satan. It looks good domestically, it reinforces their hold on Syria and even if the U.S. does go ahead with plans to attack Syria, they probably feel in Iran that it gives them license to perpetrate all sorts of gruesome activities in the name of well, whatever.
Obama on the other hand isn't done blinking. He seems genuinely intimidated by Iran. Of course the geopolitics of an attack on Iran would be difficult. Russia and China are adamantly against action. There is little appetite for action in the E.U. There won't be a lot of allies to lean on if the president were to take action. And enabling Al Qaida by destabilizing a regime that they are currently invested in fighting makes the outcome far more likely to be a totalitarian extremist regime and much less attractive and than a miraculous dawning of a pluralistic democracy in Syria. Obama also has a problem with his left flank who expect him to be a peacenik president, at some point, eventually...
Obama will not take action on Syria. That's my prediction. He couldn't call the shot like Iran just did if he wanted to do it. He's flummoxed.