Some may say it is too early to discuss the next US presidential election, but in politics long-term plans are prudent. Any incumbent has to carefully conduct and evaluate every policy to see how it will affect their chances of re-election. Many so-called experts and scholars already predict that Trump will not have a second term. Some even said he would not be in office for more than 100 days. Prediction should not be a part of scholarly analysis.
A major foreign policy achievement has been a perquisite for getting many US presidents re-elected, because it shows that they pay attention to safeguarding national interests inside the country and abroad.
For example, many people point out that former President Barack Obama was extremely lucky with the military operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Obama also sent more troops to Afghanistan and remained engaged in wars. These got him his second term even though unemployment was high. Conversely, former President Jimmy Carter’s failure to deal firmly with Iran and the hostage crisis led to his defeat in his run for re-election.
Implementation of a major foreign policy initiative was more essential for those presidents who were elected to their first term solely by winning the electoral college, not the popular vote. For example, in 2001 former President George W. Bush scored 271 to 266 in the electoral college against Al Gore, but got more than half a million fewer votes. Many predicted that Bush would not have a chance at getting re-elected.
But what got him more votes in 2004 was implementation of major foreign policy initiatives before the election, in Afghanistan and more importantly in Iraq. People wanted a democratic solution for Iraq or an end to the war there, but were uncertain that Bush’s presidential contender and a newcomer to the White House would be able to finish the job.
I am not suggesting that a war with Iran is required to ensure a good foreign policy achievement and Trump’s re-election. Non-military options are always better. But a major foreign policy operation is required to rally votes behind him. Iran is a rogue and authoritarian state that is determined to control the region, interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations, export terrorism, kill Americans and damage US interests.
Forcefully countering Tehran is viewed as an informed policy objective by both Republicans and Democrats. Iran has managed to hurt everyone except for its proxies, Syrian President Bashar Assad and terrorist groups. Its ruling clerics publicly say they are determined to damage the national security interests of the US and its allies. Many American lives were lost because of Iran and its militia proxies such as those in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
Iran exports its revolutionary ideals to the rest of the world. It is ranked the top state sponsor of terrorism by the US State Department. Iran has repeatedly and covertly tried to pursue its nuclear program and violated the policies of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the flimsy nuclear deal. Tehran continues to inflict billions of dollars’ worth of damage and scuttle US foreign policy objectives in every way. So, Iran is Trump’s key to ensuring his second term.