Israel's DebkaFile has reported today that US intelligence sources have briefed government leaders - including the two main presidential candidates, Senators McCain and Obama - on recent changes in the national intelligence estimates regarding Iran's nuclear capability. According to those unconfirmed reports, current estimates indicate that Iran is likely to have built its first nuclear weapon by February of 2009, around the time we will be inaugurating the next president.
This revelation places Senator Biden's tough talking remarks about the challenges Obama would certainly face in a much different - and darker - light. When Biden received this sensitive information about Iran in his intelligence briefing, he had several choices in how to deal with it. Abandoning discretion, Joe opted to share his special knowledge with party insiders.
Like a teenaged boy showing his father's girlie magazines to his friends, Biden giddily teases. In doing so he simultaneously sent a message to voters and our enemies that nothing is secret if it can be used to make Joe look impressive. America's security is of less importance to Biden than the aggrandizement of the egos of he and his running mate.
Will Colin Powell be taking calls from reporters this afternoon? Does he wish to comment on what he thinks an Obama administration should do with a Middle Eastern nation on the verge of obtaining weapons of mass destruction? Or will he simply pass out from the concussion wave emanating from the collision of karma and déjà vu?
The focus of the campaign is shifting swiftly back to foreign policy. Economic security is trumped by issues of survival and a nuclear Iran would seem to fall squarely into the latter category.
We have every reason to believe that this threat is real and it places much of what is happening in the world into sharper relief. We can expect the tone of campaign speeches to become more serious. McCain must use what he can of media coverage and the Internet to force his opponent to finally answer questions that he dodged in the first presidential debate.
- How do you see our relationship with Russia, considering Russia's recent strengthening of ties with our enemies in key areas of the world?
- How will you address the issue of leaving Iraq, if Iran becomes a belligerent actor armed with atomic weapons?
And the big one:
- What will be your criteria for determining when and how to apply the force of the US military?
For those who are worried that Obama may be in trouble if foreign affairs and national security become the point issues in the campaign, put the sleeping pills down. Obama is a skilled campaigner, surrounded by a team of detail-oriented tacticians. In fact, make sure to near a television on October 29th, the night of the planned Obamathon across the major networks. I feel an October Surprise in the wind.