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On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer,
Drumming like a noise in dreams
A E Housman

Picture credit to Israeliran.net

The United States is beginning to find that it is being painted into a corner by events in the Middle East, events which will undoubtedly play strongly in the election later this year.

The steady drumbeat of a coming war is becoming increasingly strident and the administration is beginning to give up pretending that an air attack by Israel on the nuclear facilities involved in atom bomb manufacture in Iran is now anything but a foregone conclusion.  According to the Washington Post, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta does not even try to deny he believes Israel will strike in April, May or June before their work enters what Barak Obama calls the “immunity zone” where such development is sufficiently prepared and distributed about the country to render it impossible to take out neatly in one raid.

The Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman also agrees writing at length (worth taking the time over) in the New York Times to the same effect.

But, as this blog is concerned with American politics, we might wonder who this might favour, and especially who in the Republican race would be buoyed by such a strike.

Certainly any such attack could become dangerously uncontrolled, especially the nearer it gets to nomination, which is why my bet for hit night is for a late one, either Sunday 22 April or Tuesday 22 May, both nights late on but benefiting from the dark of the moon.  Retaliation by Iran against American interests and their almost guaranteed attempts to close the Straits of Hormuz in the wake of such attack could easily lead to outright war.

But who in American politics can say “No” to Israel in an election year?  And who in their right mind wants to be portrayed as supporting Iran after it has been so comprehensively portrayed as the fount of all evil?  So who would oppose?  Not Obama who is said to be “working in lockstep with Israel” to prevent Iran achieving the bomb.

All the republican candidates in December, with the honourable exception of Ron Paul, were behind a strike by Israel.  Now that the field is down to two, Romney and Gingrich (Santorum will not last until May) there is still unanimity.  Both candidates have stressed their pro-Israeli credits so strongly they are stuck with the decisions.  Even ol’ Floppy Mitt is glued to this one.  He even says Israel is his first foreign call!

Whose interests would be best served?

Well Newt is the more belligerent by nature.  We have already seen with his “bases on the moon” nonsense that he is given to the overly grand gesture and one feels that his nature would mean a full on support of Israel should she choose to hit.  I feel we can support this by noting his intention, should he become President, to appoint John Bolton a hard line old Bushy to be his Secretary of State.  Remember too that in November he called for assassination of Iranian scientists and supports a joint operation against Iran.  Assassinations which have occurred.

Romney is already being dragged to the right by the very fact that Newt persists in running.  He will be forced to take an increasingly robust stance to stay in contention for nomination, so possibly against his better judgement, he too will be hawkish.

No one’s interests are served by this.  Not even Iran’s interests.  Iran is far from the monolithic political colossus that America likes to make out.  It is riven internally by factions but external threats help the regime maintain control.  At the moment a very jumpy Iran sees an opportunistic Israel looking to the late spring as its best window to strike at Iran, and an America enmeshed in its election rhetoric, unable to stop her.  None of which assists moderates in Iran to make any progress.

Far I hear the steady drummer.

Copyright David Macadam 2012