It was good to see Sen. Obama come out and put the Bush Administration on notice that their push to war with Iran is neither popular nor authorized. In a speech in Iowa
he stated that:
"George Bush and Dick Cheney must hear loud and clear from the American people and the Congress: You do not have our support, and you do not have our authorization, to launch another war."
The Senator rightly seems concerned about the escalation in rhetoric on the part of the Administration and seems to recognize the catastrophic implications of such a conflict for the US, Iran, the broader Middle East and the international community. Sen. Obama went on to note that:
"....we hear eerie echoes of the run-up to the war in Iraq in the way the president and vice president talk about Iran. They conflate Iran and al Qaeda, ignoring the violent schism that exists between Shia and Sunni militants. They issue veiled threats. They suggest the time for diplomacy and public pressure is running out, when we haven't even tried direct diplomacy."
It is vitally important that the current roster of Presidential candidates is urged to state clearly and unequivocally that they oppose war with Iran. Real diplomacy and talks must be the focus of US regional engagement.
Two pieces of bad news coming out of Pakistan in recent days, one involving the political situation and the other on the security front.
Politically, the Musharraf government made a significant strategic error when they decided to deport former PM Nawaz Sharif when he returned to the country despite the fact that the Pakistani Supreme Court has ruled that he can return. Musharraf would have been better off letting Sharif back but is now reinforcing Sharif's position as a key democratic opposition figure. The Bush Administration needs to be vocal and condemn this move. Sharif will have influence in Pakistan going forward and is close to some key religious figures, he needs to feel that he has support in the West.
On the security side a large number of Pakistani soldiers have been captured by Taliban in the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The lack of central government control more evident by the day and a change in the status quo will require real cooperation between the two neighbors. Again, this is something the Bush Administration needs to push very hard.