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Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama's policy shift?

Writing in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan views President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo as something of a watershed in bringing the President around to what I would consider a more realistic approach. It's worth it to read the whole thing, but I wanted to focus on Kagan's very brief treatment of Iran.
The Oslo speech should also be seen as a turning point in Iran policy. It is the end of Phase I, his tireless and unreciprocated efforts at engagement, and the start of Phase II, "increased pressure," sanctions that can "exact a real price" and are "tough enough to actually change behavior." Obama even ad-libbed an answer to critics who had accused him of ignoring Iran's repressed opposition. To Iranian protesters asking whose side he was on, Obama responded: "they have us on their side." Whether this portends new support for the Iranian opposition remains to be seen, but it may be the first sign of a shift there, too.
Sorry, but the only way sanctions against Iran have any chance of being effective is if they are backed up a by a credible military threat, which the Iranians perceive will be used against them unless they change their behavior. So far, there is no indication of the existence of any credible American military threat against Iran, let alone of any chance that Obama really would mean it if he made such a threat.

Will Obama start to threaten the use of force and mean it? Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Iran will have nuclear weapons first.


At 7:29 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its not really a policy shift. A change im emphasis perhaps but the Iranians are unimpressed.

When the US really means it, we'll all know it.


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