Obama appeases Iran, events pass him him by....
The administration’s slowness to embrace crippling sanctions is one of several persistent flaws in its Iran policy. Another is its continued insistence on the possibility of “engagement” with a regime that has repeatedly rejected it while plotting murder in Washington. “The United States is committed to engagement,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted Monday. Some European officials say they are concerned by the concessions the administration appears prepared to offer Tehran if there are new talks.
By now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program. That means, at a minimum, the departure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly blocked efforts by other Iranian leaders to talk to the West. Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to his dictatorship, which already faced an Arab Spring-like popular revolt two years ago. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States.
Hudson Institute President Emeritus Herbert London sees excessive faith in "soft power" as a hallmark of Team Obama, and thus Israel is, essentially, left alone to deal with the existential threat posed by Iran's clerical fascist mullahs. Not only does Team Obama trail the WP editors. It also lags behind our famously timorous European allies. Team Obama cannot even, it seems, keep up with slow company. And while Team Obama deploys soft power Iran deploys more hard power: adding three to its current fleet of 14 conventional attack submarines, of advanced design & built in Iran.
Mike Ledeen argues that the Iran opposition is also deploying hard power, by blowing up key regime assets. The monster Nov. 12 explosion that destroyed a ballistic missile base and killed Iran's top rocketeer may have been sabotage or accident. Monday saw another huge explosion, in Isfahan, that may have destroyed a key facility; what kind of facility is as yet unknown. A Washington Post front-pager reported last week that a series of "mysterious explosions" has taken place, without explanation, including a five-fold jump in gas & oil pipeline explosions since 2010. It all brings to mind James Bond creator and ex-intelligence officer Ian Fleming's quip: "Once, happenstance; twice, coincidence; three times, enemy action."
At The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith notes that the three goals of Obama's Mideast policy have all proven elusive: the peace process, engagement, and containment. The Palestinians have flipped us the bird, Iran's has contemptuously spurned meaningful engagement, and Iran continues to interfere in Iraq, as well as plan attacks on the US:
The Israelis saw that Washington was shaken by the plot, and while it is difficult to know how much their contribution to the debate over Iran was planned or just timed fortuitously, the administration has been galvanized. The State Department sent off a flurry of démarches to U.S. allies, which according to Pentagon sources contained the strongest statements they’d ever seen coming from State on the issue of Iran. To shore up its policy of containing Iran with regional clients, Washington now intends to provide the United Arab Emirates with 4,900 additional bunker-buster bombs, presumably intended for Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Don’t expect any of this to quiet the talk from Jerusalem, though, for the simple reason that deterrence and containment aren’t going to work with Iran. To date, the question of whether it is possible to deter Iran has centered on the rationality of the revolutionary regime. For instance, can a leadership that wishes to usher in the rule of the occulted, twelfth imam be convinced that a nuclear exchange is a bad idea? Iranian nuclear weapons, however, would be aimed not only at Israel, but also at the oil-producing Gulf Arab states, which is to say that while the regime in Tehran is ideological, it seems also to have a long-term strategic vision. Iran’s economy is in shambles. The country exports nothing but energy resources, pistachios, and terror. The population is failing to reproduce, its birth rate having fallen in 20 years to the lowest ever recorded. But the hegemon of the Middle East, the United States, is weak. Therefore, Tehran can save its revolution by extending its imperial sway over the entire Middle East.
A more useful question, then, is whether Washington has the will to deter a nuclear Iran. As it happens, U.S. officials have already admitted, inadvertently, that the model used to deter and contain the Soviet Union is unworkable with Iran. During the Cold War, the several hundred thousand American troops stationed in Germany were conceived of as a trip-wire. But this is not how U.S. policy-makers understand the standoff with Iran. Even as the Obama administration is exiting from Iraq, it contends that the withdrawal will be offset by a beefed up troop presence in Gulf states like Kuwait. But when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns, like many before him, that a strike on Iran “could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region,” he reveals that Washington sees U.S. troops in the region not as a forward position against Tehran, but effectively as Iranian hostages. The U.S. forces there deter attacks on Tehran, not the other way round.
Bottom Line. Team Obama is appeasing Iran, undermining non-Islamist democratic groups, who are already handicapped for want of comparable organizational skills possessed by Islamists, and sandbagging vital US ally Israel--our only reliable ally in the Mideast. It is a grim augury for the Arab Spring and, more importantly, for US interests in the region.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, Conservative Politics