You don’t get a medal for not fighting a war
I think Andrew Sullivan is correct to suggest that the idea of not fighting a war with Iran is in fact the “Neocon Nightmare”. I think that there are clear political advantages to the Republican Party if there is a conflict in the Middle East leading up to the Presidential election. It would hand a political advantage to the more hawkish of the parties, and it would tar Obama with the deeply unpopular taint of another war in the Middle East. These may seem contradictory, but much of what voters do is contradictory. I wouldn’t put it past Netanyahu to provoke that very conflict, of which at least one rationale of which would be to put his weight behind Mitt Romney. In addition to the narrow political advantage of hurting Obama’s chance for reelection, the right wing would get the war against Iran that some of them have been hankering for since 1979.
With that in mind, the apparent possibility of deal with Tehran is extremely encouraging. The Republicans would rant and rave about Obama’s Chamberlanian weakness (NB: If that is not a word, it should be), but I think it would swing few votes either for or against Obama. I could be wrong, but I think it’s a key voting issue for relatively few people, all of whom are highly politically engaged and have already made up their mind on the issue. A war, on the other hand, would be a BFD for the election.
Nobody will build you a statue for avoiding a war instead of winning one, and voters won’t judge Obama for the war we didn’t have to fight. Life isn’t fair, I know. But whether or not the voters credit him for it, in my humble opinion establishing a modus vivendi with Iran would be one of the biggest achievements of Obama’s presidency to date.