The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Wednesday night’s Fox News All-Stars.

On the Iranians’ claim that they have obtained four S-300 surface-to-air missiles:

I’m not sure it’s actually occurred. Belarus, which is allegedly the source, has denied it. The Russians have denied it. The U.S. is skeptical.  I think the Israelis are skeptical as well. But I think — and if it did happen it would be a big deal because it would accelerate Israel attacking. If they [the Iranians] have a few of the batteries, they’d want to attack right away because if they have a lot of batteries, it would make an Israeli attack almost impossible.

But, even if it didn’t happen it’s important because the Iranians are saying it, they’re touting it, they’re basically announcing that you can’t attack us.

I think this is of a piece with some of the other things we’ve been seeing Iran do. We had the president of Iran saying last week Israel’s planning an attack on two countries. I think he was meaning Lebanon and Syria.

 You’ve had attacks from Sinai into Israel presumably by Hamas. Hamas is an agent of Iran. You had rockets from Gaza into Ashdod, a city in Israel. This would undoubtedly be a Hamas rocket.

And you had the incident in Lebanon. The Lebanese incident looks as if it was not staged by Hezbollah or by the government. Nonetheless, I think what Iran is doing is playing brinksmanship. It’s worried. When it hears the chairman of the Joint Chiefs saying not only is the military option on the table, but we have a plan, that worries them a lot because the United States could inflict tremendous damage on Iran if it wanted to.

That’s why I think it’s [Iran] playing brinksmanship, as a way of reminding the world: We can start a war with Israel anytime through Hezbollah, Lebanon or Gaza, and we presumably have the missiles that could shoot down American attackers, or Israeli attackers.

It’s a high-stakes game, and I think the Iranians are getting a little bit worried about the change in attitude of the United States.

On Iran’s claim that the explosion near Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade was a fan joyfully setting off a firecracker:

Yeah, there’s a long history of fans using explosives as a way to welcome a visiting popular president.

Again, this is an opaque society. Who knows what’s true or not? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were an attack. We know from last year that there is tremendous opposition, simmering opposition — because it was repressed — to the government. Some of the sanctions are having some effects, so that increases the opposition.

Incidentally, those who argued against sanctions, saying it’s going to hurt the Iranian people and it’ll strengthen the government are dead wrong. It strengthens the opposition because it weakens the government.

But I think it is a government that’s nervous about its legitimacy inside, and again is hearing new rumblings, a new attitude from Washington. And that’s why I think it’s making threats and bluffs. It’s hoping to scare us and the Israelis away.

On the overwhelming support in Missouri for Proposition C:

I would like to celebrate this but I would caution against over-reading it. I don’t think it’s a proxy for the whole health-care law. I think if you had a referendum that would have said: In the state of Missouri, any insurance company shall no longer deny insurance to anyone because of preexisting condition, it would also win overwhelmingly.

If you pick the parts that Democrats like, I think it would win. If you pick the parts that Republicans know people don’t like, it loses. Yes, it was a huge margin, a 40-point margin, which said something. But I don’t think it’s a stand-in for the whole bill. I think it remains probably a ten-point difference between those who favor the bill as a whole [and those who oppose it].

And if it has an effect I think it has a subtle and long-range effect. The Supreme Court will judge on this ultimately, and it does, despite its isolated and majestic robed eminence — it does read the polls. It’ll probably be a close decision, and this could have an effect at the margins.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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