Several weeks ago the American polling agency, Gallup, posted a poll report which stated that if the American presidential election were to take place that day, Mitt Romney would beat Barack Obama with 6 per cent of the votes. The general reaction to this result has mainly been of surprise and disbelief, but one cannot avoid the fact that Gallup has only been wrong on three occasions through history when it comes to predicting the election result. Ever since Mitt Romney was elected the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Obama has been in a comfortable lead according to previous Gallup polls. That is, up until now.
The American election takes place in the midst of tension between Israel and Iran. Israel, one of United States’ closest allies, has several times threatened to attack Iran if they don’t terminate their plans of obtaining nuclear capability. Obama has urged caution on Israel, stating that a military attack on Iran would be considered the last resort and that diplomacy and economic restraints must be given time to reap results. Inadvertently, it has been implied by Obama that should Israel launch a military strike on Iran, they will have to fight the war without American aid. Israel, realising the extreme difficulties in solving this issue independently, would be hesitant to engage in a war against Iran if they were uncertain whether or not United States would assist them. Although it is far more unlikely that the United States’ will maintain this stance in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran, at the present this threat might be seen to work as a deterrent for Israel.
With Romney in the White House this could drastically change. Romney, a long-time friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, has several times expressed his great support for Israel. This was outlined on a recent trip to Jerusalem by his senior foreign policy adviser Dan Senor, who suggested that an Israeli attack on Iran would be backed by a Romney administration. In addition to Senor, Romney has a large team of advisers behind him, many of whom were involved in engineering the Iraq war and have publicly expressed their desire of a military confrontation with Iran.
Going to war with Iran would be an elective decision for the United States, but Romney himself has said that he would not need a congressional approval to attack Iran. With the majority of Americans seeing Iran as the United States’ greatest enemy, the argument of a necessary preemptive attack on Iran could arguably have sufficient public backing.
With a hawkish Romney as US president, Israel might find themselves comfortable knowing they’ll have the support of the United States should they launch a military attack on Iran. This would effectively remove the previous deterrent for Israel, leading to yet another war in the Middle East. But this time the war would be against a country with the world’s eighth largest active duty military. A war which will make the costly and strategically complicated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem like a walk in the park. With still no clear evidence that Iran actually has plans to develop nuclear weapons, avoiding a premature war – which will add more instability to an already deeply troubled region – is crucial.
It wouldn’t be implausible that Obama would assist Israel to engage in war against Iran, but with Romney in the White House, chances are significantly higher of Israel launching a military attack on Iran and United States subsequently assisting them. The American eagle has long ago proved to be a hawk in disguise, and there’s no reason to believe that this election will change that. But one cannot escape the fact that in the terms of the delicate situation with Iran, this election could prove crucial for the American people, as well as for the rest of the world.