In yesterday’s post on the Boumediene decision, there was a bit of a side discussion on the likelihood of McCain’s bombing Iran. It seems to me, though, that we may have gotten ahead of ourselves on this. According to Intrade, there is about a 33% chance of McCain’s being elected President. Meanwhile, there is a 25-30% chance that the U.S. and/or Israel will execute air strikes against Israel prior to December 31, 2008.
The possibility that President Bush would engage in a “lame duck bombing” is one that has concerned me for a while now. It seems to me that he wouldn’t want to strike prior to the election, as doing so could cause, shall we say, inconveniences for the Republican candidate. But if Obama were to win the election, and Bush firmly believed both that Iran’s getting nukes was an unacceptable threat and that an Obama administration would do nothing to stop it, he might very well decide that an attack in December or early January was the only way, in his view, to keep America safe.
Exactly what the fall out from such an attack would be is impossible to say. Certainly it wouldn’t make him very popular either at home or abroad. The question is whether people would see the problem specifically as resting with Bush (in which case Obama’s quick succession afterwards would blunt the negative consequences of the attack), or not, in which case the incoming Obama administration would have quite the mess on their hands. It’s not a situation I care to contemplate all that much, but that doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t real.