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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Americans becoming more skeptical about Iran?

Could it be that the Obama administration is finally awakening to the reality that 'engagement' is not going to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon? That's what Amos Harel argues in Haaretz.
The Iranian issue dominated this week's visits by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones. At first, the Americans had hoped to open a dialogue with Iran in September and conduct a review of this policy toward the end of the year. However, Iran has so far refused to even agree on beginning a dialogue, which might accelerate the schedule: The reassessment will be conducted earlier than planned, and thus sanctions might also be able to commence sooner. The U.S. is well aware that Iran is progressing, and that by mid-2010, it may pass another critical milestone, that of being able to detonate a nuclear device for the first time.

The backdrop to the talks is the acute internal crisis in Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama hesitated for weeks before uttering his first condemnation of the violent suppression of the post-election protests. The Iranians reacted with wild rants against the American president. As noted this week by Michael Singh, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, America's message on this matter is still unfocused and confused. A senior American official comments on the Iranian nuclear threat and a possible preemptive Israeli strike almost every week, but all those statements provide no clear line on either Israel or Iran.

Though it seems the red light on an Israeli attack still stands, the recurrent warnings by Israel's prime and defense ministers about all options being on the table actually serve American interests: They allow Obama to wave the Israeli stick at the Iranians as part of his effort to get the Iranians to agree to a dialogue, and possibly even to concessions.

Israeli officials believe the humiliations that the Obama administration has sustained from North Korea are influencing its approach to Iran. If Tehran follows Pyongyang in challenging the U.S. by openly detonating a nuclear device next year, the American reaction could be a lot harsher.
You will recall that earlier this week, former American ambassador to the UN John Bolton argued that the focus of the talks this past week was to convince Israel not to act.

Even if the Obama administration is starting to come around, they have a long way to go, and given what Bolton, in an interview last Sunday, called their 'neo-religious faith' in 'negotiations,' I find it hard to believe that the Obama administration is going to come around in time to do something about Iran. If Tehran openly detonates a nuclear device next year, it's too late to do anything.

Israel is going to have to go it alone.


At 5:01 AM, Blogger Gail said...

I don't know what to say, except, Dear Mr. President: Duh!

If your were as smart as the average plumber, maybe something constructive would have been accomplished by now.

Best regards,
Gail S


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