The Corner

Witches’ Brew at the Financial Times

The Financial Times’s Ed Luce has a largely incomprehensible column on the witches’ brew of Iran, Barack Obama, Israel, and the Republicans in today’s paper. Starting off coherently, Luce notes that 2012 may be the “year of Iran,” if Tehran achieves nuclear capability, thereby threatening regional stability and the global economy. Then, he goes off the rails: 

Much as Nikita Khrushchev misread John F. Kennedy as a pushover, and then tested his brinkmanship over Cuba, so Mr Obama is perceived by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to be susceptible to intimidation. 

Huh? In Luce’s strained (to be kind) view, it’s not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who, by the way, is never mentioned in the column — who is intimidating and daring Obama, it’s Netanyahu. That’s like saying the governor of Florida maneuvered JFK into quarantining Cuba during the missile crisis — and, by the way, was a warmonger to do so.

Israel, in Luce’s implication, is not only acting hysterically, since, what’s a few nuclear bombs between blood enemies? but is pushing poor Barack Obama into a dangerously aggressive posture. If I were Obama, I’d be a bit miffed at being portrayed as such a pushover. Luce is just getting started, though. Next up in his rogues’ gallery is of course the Republican party. The GOP, he declaims, will essentially derail any talks with Iran by (gasp!) “keeping [the issue] on the front burner.” What effrontery! How irresponsible! Yet even more incomprehensibly, Luce then notes that at the upcoming Republican presidential debate, there likely will be televised commercials calling for the delisting of Iran’s armed opposition group from lists of terrorist groups. Not only does this have nothing to do with the issue at hand, does Mr. Luce think the commercials are being paid for by the GOP? If not, then what’s his beef with the free market — whoever can afford a commerical can buy it. Just ask SEIU, which kept up a constant barrage in favor of Obamacare last year.

I know you may be tired, but we’re not quite done yet. Luce can’t wrap up without a dollop of character assassination, in this case of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is doubly damned by supporting both Newt Gringrich and Benjamin Netanyahu. A more despicable eminence grise is hard to find . . . today. According to Luce, Adelson has $22 billion in the bank, which dwarfs the measly $1 billion President Obama hopes to raise for re-election. You know where this is going, though I’m not sure Luce really believes Mr. Adelson is going to spend all those billions defeating Mr. Obama — it just makes for a good bit of class-based scaremongering (by the way, even according to Luce, Adelson has spent only $10 million supporting Gingrich. A prince’s sum, to be sure, but it’s less than 1 percent of what Obama is aiming for). Pity poor Mr. Adelson for the temerity of having a view and deciding to exercise his right to support politicians he likes. What is the world coming to?

Luce begins winding up his peroration by noting the “surreal quality of the domestic U.S. debate on Iran.” He certainly should know surrealism.

— Michael Auslin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


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