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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can Obama play hardball?

Writing in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan expresses the fear that many of us have regarding President Obama and Iran: President Obama doesn't know how to play hardball.
So now the test results are in: Iran's intentions, it seems, are not good. Tehran apparently will not accept the deal but will propose an alternate plan, agreeing to ship smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium to Russia gradually over a year. Even if Iran carried out this plan as promised -- every month would be an adventure to see how much, if anything, Iran shipped -- the slow movement of small amounts of low-enriched uranium does not accomplish the original purpose, since Iran can quickly replace these amounts with new low-enriched uranium produced by its centrifuges. Iran's nuclear clock, which the Obama administration hoped to stop or at least slow, would continue ticking at close to its regular speed.

Tehran is obviously probing to see whether President Obama can play hardball or whether he can be played. If Obama has any hope of getting anywhere with the mullahs, he needs to show them he means business, now, and immediately begin imposing new sanctions.

And what about Russia, that other great object of the "new era of engagement"? Administration officials claim to have won Moscow's agreement to join in sanctions should Iran refuse to make a deal, and Obama paid in advance for cooperation by acquiescing to Moscow's demand to cancel planned missile-defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic.
On cue, the Post reports elsewhere that Russia has pocketed the advance payment and will not go along with sanctions.
The Kremlin said Wednesday that sanctions against Iran are highly unlikely in the near future, the latest signal that Russia is not yet ready to raise the heat on Tehran to allay Western fears over its nuclear program.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers that they will gain nothing by trying to intimidate Tehran, and Russian officials have refused to publicly back the United States in threatening tougher sanctions against Iran.

"Sanctions in relation to Iran are hardly possible in the near future," the Interfax news agency quoted the Kremlin's top foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko, as telling Russian reporters in Moscow.
The problem is that Obama has no plan B. His only policy is 'engagement.'
Many of us worry that, for Obama, engagement is an end in itself, not a means to an end. We worry that every time Iran rejects one proposal, the president will simply resume negotiations on another proposal and that this will continue right up until the day Iran finally tests its first nuclear weapon, at which point the president will simply begin negotiations again to try to persuade Iran to put its nuclear genie back in the bottle.
Yes, that's exactly what we worry about. The problem is that while Obama has no plan B for dealing with Iran, the rest of the world won't acknowledge what the plan B is when Obama doesn't deal with Iran. Here's Kagan on sanctions:
That is the best card in Obama's hand right now. It's time for him to play it -- or admit that poker is not his game.
Fortunately, there is a plan B for Obama's failure to deal with Iran. Here it is:

Of course, you can't see it, but that plane has a blue Star of David on its tail.



At 5:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Iran has no intention of giving up its nuclear program. With Russia and China in its corner, it can afford to defy the West with impunity - and it knows that it will face no real consequences from America.

What could go wrong indeed

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Geoffrey Carman said...

Technically a B-2A has no tail, in the conventional sense, for there to a Mogen Dovid on. :)

But your point is taken.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

Minor detail though...Israel does NOT have any B-2A stealth bombers. I believe that the US is not prepared to share that technology with anyone. Also, at about $1B per plane pricetag, not many countries (especially Israel) can afford this beast.


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