But the Bush administration may not have to worry about the opposition for round two. After all, the Democrats have long agreed that Iran must be dealt with militarily.

Recently, the Democratic Party’s rising “progressive” star Barack Obama said he would favor “surgical” missile strikes against Iran.

As Obama told the Chicago Tribune on September 26, 2004, “[T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point … if any, are we going to take military action?”

He added, “[L]aunching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in” given the ongoing war in Iraq. “On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse.” Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if “violent Islamic extremists” were to “take over.” ~Joshua Frank

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is renowned here in Chicago for his ability to move in all sorts of different crowds, but I suspect his old Hyde Park constituents (almost all of whom, unsurprisingly, are fiercely anti-war) will be more than a little scandalised that he has become the junior senator of military interventionism, second only perhaps to his colleague from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman. Mr. Obama has the great luxury, however, of possessing the most incompetent groups of political opponents in the Illinois Republican Party that any new senator has ever had to face. There is no risk to him that a GOP now so slavishly adherent to interventionism will ever be able to use his newfound, Clintonian love of military strikes against him. His presence among the select few immediately surrounding President Bush on the inaugural platform on Thursday partly reflects the new senator’s ingratiation with the hegemonists in the administration.

Though I have been at times, in my limited capacity, one of the loudest voices warning against the continued support for the old Taliban and al-Qaeda from within the Pakistani security services and army, and I have been livid at the appalling double standard by which the unarmed Iraq with no links to terrorism was attacked and the nuclear-armed Pakistan with copious links to terrorism has been coddled and sold American weapons (much to the irritation of our much better allies for the future in New Delhi), I cannot condone the reckless willingness of committing our country to a future war against Pakistan if its government turns sharply Islamist. If the Democratic wing of the War Party has already been discussing such possibilities, then the Red Republicans cannot be far behind.

The problem with Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech was, after all, not that he left out countries that should have been included, but that he made such a list of countries to attack or intimidate at all. If launching strikes against Iran is a horrible idea (and it is), attacking Pakistan would be a nightmare and would realistically require a major war the likes of which our country has not seen in 60 years (which could, in all likelihood, trigger the south Asian nuclear war all sane people have been seeking to avoid). We could, of course, lob a few missiles at some random targets to avoid a serious conflict and succeed only in provoking whatever Islamist regime was coming to power. Or we could abandon the lunacy of universal war against any and all Islamists and focus on precisely those who attacked us.

On the same topic, Mr. Bush’s call for universal anarchy, or ‘liberty’ as he chooses to call it, is as foolish and dangerous a move as we have seen come out of Washington. I remember growing up learning to ridicule Jimmy Carter for making the genuinely silly, albeit well-intentioned, decision to support ‘popular’ and ‘democratic’ forces around the world, as if to prove to the Soviets that we were ‘really’ pro-democratic (as if this was something that we either needed to prove or something that mattered). The result was nothing other than the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the event that this same crowd of democratist maniacs purport to despise. (They do resent that revolution, but I suspect it has far more to do with the very good relations Israel enjoyed with Shah than with the theocracy of Tehran. The real problem with that revolution, from our perspective, was that our government effectively abandoned the Shah and destroyed our position in the region in the midst of the Cold War for the sake of a ‘democratic’ principle that did not, of course, ever come to fruition there.) Now imagine the threat that might emerge if Mr. Bush actually, God forbid, makes good on his promise to support democracy around the world–we could see repeats of 1979 in Riyadh and Islamabad and perhaps a few other places besides.