The GOP, Israel and Iran
So, why do we hear about Iran all the time lately? Obviously, one big reason is because the GOP can't think what else to run on in November. They could run and win on restricting immigration, but there's the little problem that President Bush desperately wants to open the borders up.
Another reason is that there aren't too many other candidates left for us to play the Great Game of Nations with.
It's fun to maneuver for supposed national advantage, even if most of the time the ploys are either essentially pointless (readers of a certain age will remember the apparent crisis when the Soviet Union abandoned its ally Somalia to take up with "strategically-located" Ethiopia, thus causing a devastating setback to essential American interests, such as they were, in the highlands of Abyssinia) or simply for the benefit of narrow domestic special interests (practically nobody in America other than the United Fruit Co. cared about the banana republics that poor Gen. Smedley Butler and his Marines kept getting sent to).
Three years ago the big threat to America was supposed to be Saddam Hussein, but he turned out to be an old man pursuing his literary interests (when he was captured in his hole in the ground, he was reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment) by writing romance novels. So this year, the most dangerous man in the world is supposed to be Iran's newly elected President Borat, who is said to be re-assembling the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great, mostly, it seems, by running his mouth off nonstop.
Finally, there is the obvious but largely unmentionable fact that much of the media elite, such as Krauthammer, are obsessed with Israel for personal ethnocentric reasons rather than anything remotely related to the (American) national interest. Israel is what gives their aging lives meaning.
America actually does have a long term strategic rival that is worth worrying about. It's a country with about 18 times the population of Iran and about a standard deviation higher average IQ. But competing with China in an effective fashion would involve doing the hard, unpleasant work of preserving some of America's industrial base, rather than letting Wal-Mart outsource it all to China. So, forget that. Instead, let's talk about the latest horrible thing President Borat said.
The Hoekstra-Harman Hoax