So I haven’t had much to say since we flipped over to 2012, but it’s because I don’t think there’s been very much substantive material out there. Read as: no one’s significantly annoyed or disgusted me lately. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the politicians and political candidates are still out there doing their stuff: mudslinging, sound-biting, back-stabbing and generally trying to keep themselves in the spotlight, but nothing that really matters. It’s like watching our cats wrestle on the living room floor: lots of screeching and hissing, and a few face-smacks; just enough to keep me mildly amused, but not enough to intervene.
Domestically, I’m disappointed Huntsman didn’t go farther – according to the various news organization surveys I’ve played with his views were closest to my own (if ~53% can be considered “close”), and now we’re seeing how Gingrich/Romney’s going to turn out. Prediction: Romney. Gingrich is much more out of touch with society, and I think it’s starting to show. Ron Paul continues to begin sentences with logic and common sense before springboarding off the deep end into a pool with no water. As far as Santorum goes, he’s gone more Ron Paul than Ron Paul himself. Santorum, whether he’s doing it on purpose or is being misadvised, either doesn’t seem to realize he’s courting a rather small segment of the very-far-right (even if I was against gay marriage, stating having a father in jail is better than having two fathers makes no logical sense; is he going to say next it’s better to be an orphan than have two moms?) or he’s standing on some very tight principles. If it’s the latter, I can respect that without agreeing with it, but I don’t think he realizes how alone he is. Still don’t know who’ll pull ahead between Obama and (my prediction of) Romney; still too much time for EVERYONE to screw things up… more. Still hoping Stephen Colbert will seriously throw his hat in. 🙂
Internationally, the news has been more disconcerting, but it seems everyone is still just moving their pawns around without bringing more significant pieces into play. Things are probably worst in Syria, where many have died; there’s talk of monitors and sanctions, but Assad is still hanging on, many countries are criticizing, and nothing’s really happening. Egyptian protesters are active again, and Israel and Iran are going at it as they do every few months. I think there’s potential in the possibility of Israel finally carrying out their ongoing threats to attack Iran in 2012, but I’m not sure if they’ll really have the guts to do it, especially with the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is honoring the Egyptian treaty with Israel, but I believe Israel is worried an attack on Iran might push Egypt to fall off the wagon. I’m also curious to see what happens in Egypt over the next few months. The West had apoplexy when the Brotherhood took the majority in elections there, figuring a radical Islamic Republic was soon to follow, but things have stayed rather stable, and the Brotherhood has even publicly supported a Christian Coptic running for public office over a more radical Muslim contender. There’s hope for fairness there. Whether or not it happens though, this is democracy in action: the people will get what they voted for. I’ve been rather optimistic on the Brotherhood since first studying them in school a few years ago: they have their radical sects (just as our political parties do), but on the whole they’re principled but balanced, and seem to go out of their way to stay within the boundaries of the law. If they can hold on to that, as I said, there’s hope.
The bigger question for the U.S., of course, is whether and/or how much the U.S. would get involved in an Israeli attack on Iran. If Iran closed the Strait or let loose with a swarm of anti-ship missiles on our forces in the Persian Gulf, they could do significant damage to which I’m sure we’d fully retaliate, flattening much of Iran’s military. Hopefully we wouldn’t go full Clausewitz on them, as there is a large moderate faction desiring greater democratic and Western values in the Iranian population, and if we could amputate the arms, there’s a chance of a full revolution which could take off the head on its own. If we started getting into civilian casualties, they would likely consolidate back into the government for self-preservation purposes, and any chance for effecting anything more than wholesale destruction would be lost.
On the other hand, if Iran can manage restraint under an Israeli strike and focus solely on counterattacking the Jewish state, they stand to win a huge moral victory. The U.S. would have no solid basis to join in the fray, under the fear of international backlash such as after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In this case, the U.S. would be most wise to limit their involvement to diplomatic, logistic and intelligence support for the Israelis, and keep us the hell out of it. Frankly, our ships and bases in the Persian Gulf are sitting ducks for Iranian missiles and suicide speedboats, and I feel we’d lose international and domestic public support in days if not hours after the first airstrike on Bushehr or Qom.
So that’s it for the moment: lots of posturing, lots of hot air, but in the large scale, everyone’s still just circling the ring and waiting to see who, if anyone, is going to throw the first real punch. Frankly, I’d be fine if everyone just picked up their marbles and went home.