The Iran Moment at the Debate

Ron Kampeas Writes: A big chunk of last night’s CNN debate in Phoenix was about Israel and Iran.

As far as that goes, there were some interesting moments.

There was the “only Newt” moment when Newt Gingrich openly challenging the acuity of a sitting military chief of staff. Gingrich, unsolicited, said he “could not imagine” why Gen. Martin Dempsey would think Iran could behave as a rational actor.  Going after the sitting military is unusual: Republicans dragged John Kerry  across the coals in 2004 for implicitly challenging an immediate past c-o-s, Tommy Franks, for pulling troops out of Afghanistan too soon.

Ron Paul was able to deliver what seemed to me to be his most thorough and lengthy pushback against calls to heighten confrontation with Iran: He made what he called the moral argument (he contended that Iran does not appear to be close enaough to a nuclear weapon to pose a threat that could lead to war), the constitutional argument (make your case before Congress and get its authorization) and the economic argument (a war would spiral the United States further into debt.).

And there was a lot of fire aimed at President Obama, some grounded in fact (Obama is resisting a more explicit threat than the “no options off the table” language that has held for years, although Benjamin Netanyahu is eager to sharpen the language), some not so much (indicators suggest that Obama’s sanctions — and they are his sanctions, and they are unprecedented — have had a crushing effect on Iran’s economy; and his dropping anti-missile programs in Poland and the Czech Republic scored at least one major concession from Russia, and one that Israel had sought: The cancellation of the sale of S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Iran.)

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