- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Judging from Wednesday’s address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, Barack Obama will not let John McCain pound him for being soft on Iran. “The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region,” Mr. Obama stated. ” It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race, and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave; it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”

As a summary of the nature of the Iranian threat, Mr. Obama was exactly right. But three paragraphs later, Mr. Obama effectively told Iran that if it waits long enough, it will not have to worry about U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Mr. Obama repeated his call for pulling U.S. troops from Iraq, but he failed to say whether the withdrawal would be based on conditions on the ground. That last issue is particularly important because Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (and, in particular, a section called the Quds Force) has been heavily involved in facilitating the flow of rockets and roadside bombs to Iraqi Sunni and Shi’ite jihadists.

Since the Iraq troop surge began last year, Iran has stepped up its efforts to target U.S. troops. In July, the U.S. military said that the Quds Force was bringing groups of up to 60 Iraqi insurgents at a time to training facilities near Tehran, where they were taught to carry out kidnappings and stage attacks against American troops in Iraq. According to the U.S. military, the force has been behind the smuggling of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) into Iraq. The EFPs, which can penetrate the armor of a Humvee, have been linked to scores of GI deaths. If the U.S. unilaterally withdrew troops from Iraq, it would hand Tehran a huge victory in its proxy war against the United States.

Mr. McCain and the Republicans point to Mr. Obama’s opposition last September to a non-binding amendment to the defense authorization designating the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group. The amendment, supported by 29 Democrats, passed 76-22. Mr. Obama, who was absent for the vote, said he opposed the measure because it could be used to justify an attack on Iran. Which Barack Obama will be the Democratic standard-bearer: the one who vowed to “eliminate” the Iranian nuclear threat two days ago, or the one who opposed designating the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization?

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