The pace of job creation surged in January, with the US economy generating 243,000 new positions while the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, according to government data released Friday. – CNBC

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

This is fantastic news. Besides the people impacted by the turn in the economy, Obama reelect gets a boost too.

“What’s not to like about the report?” said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. “Not only did payrolls exceed forecasts…but between the November and December revisions employers added 160,000 more jobs than first thought.” – CNBC

I’d like to just offer one note of caution as 2012 election season starts to be seen only through the jobs and unemployment numbers. This is understandable, but as we learned on the run-up to George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, when Osama bin Laden popped up in a video, what is suspected to be the issue, Bush-Cheney’s screw-up on Iraq, didn’t turn out to do him in. Obama gave the order for a daring SEAL Team Six mission to take out Osama, for which he doesn’t get enough credit, but there other foreign policy areas where he is less surefooted.

There is growing chatter about developments surrounding Iran and Israel. Richard Haas talked about it this week on “Morning Joe,” stressing a new element, the “zone of immunity.” David Ignasius wrote about it yesterday:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a lot on his mind these days, from cutting the defense budget to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But his biggest worry is the growing possibility that Israel will attack Iran over the next few months.

Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June ““ before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon ““ and only the United States could then stop them militarily.

In his State of the Union Speech, Pres. Obama trotted out the old and tired war rattling words “no option off the table” to make the point about Iran. I mentioned earlier when talking about Newt Gingrich and Sheldon Adelson (see Wayne Barrett here and here), who’s whole reason for being is to saber rattle on Iran, that DNI Clapper had warned about Iranian attacks inside the U.S.

There’s an interesting post up at Huffington Post on the entire subject of Obama and Iran.

Mitt Romney is so incredibly weak on national security issues that there can be little doubt he’d have to trip the full neoconservative wire to pass muster with Republicans.

Pres. Obama has shown his Bushesque colors throughout his foreign policy decisions, with an election year bringing even bigger challenges to him. As many of you remember, he ducked an important vote on Iran as a senator running for president. There has been much criticism on his Israeli policy as president, most undeserved. Pres. Obama has been a steadfast friend to Israel, as all American presidents must be, with Romney’s “appeasement” lines absurd.

It has leaked that US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Gen. Martin Dempsey warned the Israelis that if they launched a strike on Iran that spiralled into a war, they would be on their own. – Juan Cole

It’s a long way until November. However, never underestimate election year foreign policy problems to distract people who remain unhappy about the direction of the country. If Iran and Israel become front and center the Middle East could raise its head and turn the election into something no one anticipates today.

This election year is primed for shock waves.

This column has been updated.