The Common Good

Our Budget-Busting Foreign Policy Disconnect

A recent Gallup poll shows that 81 percent of Americans want the President to be focused on domestic issues, while 9 percent say they want him to focus on foreign policy issues. Not too surprising ... until you consider that the fastest growing domestic priority is the deficit (69 percent).

Robert Baer. Photo by Getty Images.
Robert Baer speaks at the 'Spies Like Them' panel discussion at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by Getty Images.

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The lopsided number between the importance of the deficit and the importance of foreign policy is the first clue that, for most Americans, there’s a disconnect between domestic policy and foreign policy.

Clue number two is a bit more alarming.

The same poll indicates that 54 percent favor a “strong” stance — read: military attack — against Iran versus 39 percent who say that it’s more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran. Put these facts together and a disturbing picture emerges: the less Americans care about foreign policy, the more willing they are to go to war, and the less they’re able to see that war = skyrocketing deficits. 

The disconnect couldn’t come at a worse time.

While the West is trying to strangle Iran into submission with sanctions, Iran has responded with threats to close off the Straight of Hormuz, and if Iran were to carry out their threat in any way, it would trigger the Carter Doctrine, which demands a military response to any hostile party that seeks to impede the free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. 

This wouldn’t be so bad if we could actually talk to Iran, but ever since the revolution in 1979, the U.S. and Iran have had no official ways of communicating with each other.  Despite the pro-war rhetoric by some in the media, the idea of talking to Iran is not a concoction invented by naïve, idealistic, peacenik appeasers in the vein of Neville Chamberlain.

Admiral Mike Mullen has this to say (emphasis in bold is mine):

“We haven’t had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other. If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”

Another person that believes the U.S. should negotiate with Iran is Robert Baer, the ex-CIA agent who inspired George Clooney’s character in the movie Syriana. In his ground-breaking book, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower, Baer presents three options for how the U.S. could deal with Iran: contain Iran (which would take a half a million troops and would last anywhere between 30 and 100 years), provoke a Sunni-Shia war (the Mad Max Option), or settle with Iran.

Of the third option, Baer writes:

“The only real option for the United States — if we admit we’re not prepared to enter a hundred-year war, with a determined enemy, on the other side of the world — is the last one.”

Baer also warns that war with Iran would “drain the treasury” and turn us into a “third world economy.” 

Whether Baer’s predictions are accurate or not, at the very least America should be skeptical about its ability to contain the consequences of another military confrontation.  Few predicted that invading Iraq would cost us a trillion dollars and result in strengthening Iran — but it did. 

The people that are pushing for a military confrontation with Iran are walking a fine line of contradiction. On the one hand they behave as if Iran is powerful enough to be the single greatest threat to the existence of humanity. On the other hand, they behave as if we can bomb them without consequences.

If only 2012 wasn’t an election year! God help us if things get out of hand.

Aaron D. Taylor is the author of Alone with A Jihadist: A Biblical Response to Holy War. To learn more about Aaron’s ministry, go to www.aarondtaylor.com. To follow Aaron on Twitter, go to fromdeathtolife@gmail.com.

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