Sunday, July 5, 2009

Foreign Policy Folly

Obama's foreign policy is a disaster. He has yet to get a major challenge correct, from North Korea to Honduras to Iran. As to Iran, Obama is still holding out hope for talks with the theocracy and now has taken indefensible and wholly counterproductive position that there should be no new sanctions imposed on the theocracy for their brutal repression of the Iranian people.

This guy, honest to God, is worse than Neville Chamberlain. This from Haaretz:

The United States is opposed to enacting a new set of financial sanctions against Iran that are due to be discussed in the G8 summit next week, diplomatic officials in New York reported Friday.

According to officials, sanctions against Iran are expected to top the G8's agenda. Sources are also predicting a pointed debate between the heads of the industrialized nations over an appropriate response to Iranian authorities' suppression of reformist demonstrations in Iran led by Mir Hossein Mousavi and other Iranian opposition leaders.

. . . U.S. officials claimed that a tough stance toward Iran could backfire, bringing about an opposite outcome to that desired by those who support such measures.

The Obama administration, according to the diplomatic sources, has discarded the notion of direct talks with Iran. However, the United States is still interested in re-engaging Iran through the renewed discussion of its nuclear program through the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany.

American officials expressed concern that a decision to enact harsh steps against Iran during the G8 meeting could badly hurt the prospect of Tehran agreeing to renew negotiations with the permanent Security Council members. . . .

Read the entire article.

This is insane and insidious in equal measure. How many things are wrong with this? By my count, at least seven.

One, this tells the theocrats not only that their brutality and repression will have no international consequences, but more importantly that Obama will not act out of concern for how overboard the theocracy might react. In other words, Obama is giving the Iranian regime power over our foreign policy. This is Neville Chamberlain territory. This is how France and England of the 1930's responded to Hitler's provocations.

Two, this tells the people risking life and limb to protest this brutal and corrupt regime that they are on their own. They will find no support from an Obama administration that is prioritizing talks with the illegitimate theocrats. As an aside, the Obama administration not only does not support the spread of democracy, but if we include Honduras in the mosaic, then it appears that Obama is willing to actively act against democracies under threat if it somehow serves Obama's personal agenda It is certainly not serving the best interests of America.

Three, there is every reason to believe a revolution that throws the theocrats out of power and dismantles the IRGC would remake the Middle East overnight. It is not a panacea for all ills, but it sure is a panacea for many of them - the nuclear issue, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraq, Sudan, and Bahrain are at the top of the list. So what is Obama doing to support a revolution? The regime is in deep trouble economically from a combination of Bush sanctions, massive corruption and Ahemdinejad economic mismanagement. A large portion of the population want to see the theocrats out. So why are we not seeking deep international sanctions on the regime in an attempt to push it over the brink?

Four, what in the history of the Iranian theocracy leads Obama to believe that they will respond to restraint and gestures of good will? Iran negotiated directly with us over Iraq - all the while they were killing our soldiers and attempting to Lebanize the country. Indeed, there is nothing in the theocracy's thirty bloody years of existence to suggest that they negotiate in good faith or that they have any intention of altering their behavior, particularly towards us. In a post the other day, Michael Ledeen said:

For those who wish to think clearly about Iran, there are two fundamental facts:

* the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been at war with us ever since the overthrow of the shah in early 1979;

* the savagery they have unleashed on the people of Iran is precisely what they want to do to us.

There is a third fundamental fact that Ledeen has previously mentioned.

"Iranian resources are largely devoted to the cause of jihad, not to Iran per se. If Iran goes down the drain, but a new caliphate is created, first in the region and then globally, that’s success by their standards.

In other words, the primary motivator of Iran's theocracy is to spread the Khomeinist revolution. Everyone from Khomeini to Khameini to Ahmedinejad has been absolutely clear on this point. And they see no moral constraints on their actions to achieve their goal. Sec. of Def. Gates summed it up perfectly when he said last year that "everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents - Christians, Jews and Muslims alike." This is a regime with no morality and no conscience, just blind ambition to retain power and to spread itself throughout the world like a cancer. They resemble no nation so much as Nazi Germany in the mid-1930's. And in relation to their prime motivators, failing to impose sanctions will have zero impact on the Iranian regime's behavior. It does nothing to threaten their hold on power, nor their ability to spread their revolution.

Five, what in the history of negotiations on the nuclear issue with the EU-3 or like groups suggests to the Obama administration the unilateral talks will have the slightest impact on Iranian behavior? Indeed, the last such meeting, in July 2008, ended with Iran refusing to talk about the nuclear issue and, instead, making a proposal for a format for an "open-ended, cost-free, high-level negotiating process" that, said one of the European negotiators, “would take a minimum of several years” if implemented.

Six, what makes Obama think that Iran will not act offended and blame the world for their internal dissent wholly irrespective of the the U.S. and Europe do? That is precisely what the theocracy is doing today. That is why Mousavi is being called an agent of the U.S., with calls for his "arrest for treason" in the theocracy's major newspaper. It is why Khameini in his Friday sermon blamed the unrest on the UK, the US and Israel. It is why workers for the British embassy now languish in Iranian prison, awaiting a kangaroo court.

Seven, and lastly, what does Obama think that he can possibly offer Iran to make it change its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Iran has rejected the entire panoply of carrots the West could offer. The only reason the theocracy might cut a deal now would be if whatever Obama proffered would help the theocracy retain power. In other words, unless Obama is prepared not merely to ignore the brutalized people of Iran, but actively connive in their repression, going forward with unilateral or bilateral talks and refraining from imposing sanctions make no sense.

It would be hard to imagine a more counterproductive foreign policy than that carried out to date by Team Obama. I can recall no President, even Jimmy Carter, being close to this bad. And I am willing to bet we are only seeing the half of it. We know Obama has cut all funding for promotion of democracy in Iran from next year's budget. Anyone want to bet that the CIA and the rest of our covert operators are being instructed to do nothing to support the unrest in Iran? Obama is not merely a weak President, he is a dangerous one.


Robert J. Avrech said...


The great irony here, well, one of many, is that you lead with the story from Ha'aretz. It is Israel's most left-wing newspaper. Sort of the NY Times on Stalinist steroids. If they find Obama's foreign policy wanting, well...

GW said...

As the old saying goes, "'I see' said the blind man."