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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's Obama up to on Iran?

As many of you know already, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany are scheduled to meet with Iran on October 1. Unlike any business meeting you or I have ever attended, the meeting will have no agenda and no set goals.

But then, the Obama administration had only two choices: Meet on Iran's terms or walk away. Russia and China have said that they will not support any more sanctions against Iran, and if there were doubts that sanctions passed by the Security Council would be effective, sanctions supported only by the United States and (possibly) the Europeans simply will not be effective except in the unlikely event that those parties are willing to take warlike action (like blocking the Straits of Hormuz) to enforce them. Obama has no leverage against Iran other than military leverage and he's not willing to use it. Walking away from Iran's offer to 'talk' would be an admission that the world's problems cannot all be solved through 'conversations.' Obama's not willing to admit that.

Bret Stephens argues in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration is goading Israel to the point where our little country will have no choice but to act on its own. Stephens argues that in doing so, the United States is abdicating its responsibility as a world power. He believes that Obama just doesn't want to deal with trying to stop Iran and that Obama would prefer instead to try to contain Iran after it has gone nuclear. The danger there is that it's clear that Iran has other targets in mind after Israel. But Obama may want an Israeli strike on Iran for reasons that have nothing to do with his willingness to try containment.

Jennifer Rubin believes that Obama is trying to turn Israel into the bad guy by forcing it to be the one to deal with Iran. Israel has shown and told anyone who is willing to listen that it cannot and will not live with a nuclear Iran. She also argues that Obama would like to put Iran's nuclear program on the back burner to pursue 'other grand bargains.'

So why is Obama going ahead with this meeting? I believe that it's a combination of two key factors. First, Obama doesn't believe he has a responsibility to stop Iran because he doesn't accept the notion of American exceptionalism or America's position as a superpower. In his eight months in office, he has done all in his power to degrade America's superpower status. That's why he needs the cover of the 'international community' to call this meeting in the first place, and that's why he's completely unwilling to even threaten the use of military force against Iran.

Second, Obama's main only articulated foreign policy goal is to appease the Muslim world by creating a Palestinian state. Obama appears to be indifferent to the prospect that Israel may attack Iran, because he knows that such an attack will be met with worldwide condemnation. Obama may believe that he can then use defending Israel in international forums like the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court as an incentive to convince Israel to give the 'Palestinians' whatever they want. In this way, Obama would gain after the fact the Faustian bargain 'Iran for a Palestinian state' that he tried to impose on Israel during the Netanyahu government's first three months in office.

What could go wrong?


At 3:07 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama would like to put the screws to Israel. Israel should avoid making any sort of understanding with the US in exchange for freedom of action against Iran.


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