David Frum

09.04.12

War With Iran?

Noah Millman, writing for The American Conservative, has posed a few interesting questions in response to the recent exchange of essays between David (Frum) and Andrew Sullivan. (David's articles are here, here, and here. Andrew's post is here)

From Millman's article:

The more interesting question I have for Frum: it sounds to me like he’s making a case against war with Iran. Is he? If war with Iran is as costly and unlikely to succeed as he outlines, shouldn’t we be thinking about other ways to deal with the Iranian nuclear program than threatening a war we oughtn’t to want to wage? And if that’s the case, wouldn’t David Frum be enormously valuable as a convert to the cause of such alternative approaches, given his famous history?

Relatedly, I’d be very interested to hear how he thinks Netanyahu would respond to an offer by a President Romney to take care of the Iranian problem himself. Frum argues that Israel is not the main advocate of military action against Iran – that Saudi Arabia is far more invested. Netanyahu has indeed been extremely loud about the Iranian threat, and has repeatedly threatened action. But he could well be bluffing. Netanyahu, after all, is one of the rare Israeli Prime Ministers who has not fought a war during his term. And if he were truly concerned about the Iranian threat above all, and didn’t believe Israel had the technical capacity to eliminate that threat itself, you’d expect to have seen a very different Netanyahu in the first two years of Obama’s Presidency – a Netanyahu willing to bend on settlements in order to win an American commitment to action on Iran. But you saw nothing of the sort. Netanyahu behaved as if diplomatic concessions to the Palestinians were more threatening to Israel than the Iranian nuclear program. So maybe he’s bluffing?

Is that what Frum thinks? Does he think that, if Romney declines to attack Iran, Israel will also do nothing? If not, then what happens to his case that Romney would be less-likely to spark a war with Iran? And if he does think that Netanyahu is bluffing, what does that say about the objective case for our belligerent posture towards Iran?

David is traveling this morning to Charlotte, North Carolina to cover the Democratic National Convention. A response to Millman should be posted sometime this afternoon.