Monday, December 5, 2011

Iran, Nukes, & Obama's Scales

Yes, we got bin Laden on Obama's watch. And yes we have been picking off al Qaeda with Hellfire missiles at an increased pace under Obama.  And notwithstanding that the latter has arisen mostly because Obama shut down our programs to capture and interrogate al Qaeda members, these do represent significant foreign policy achievements for Obama.

But what Obama hasn't done is effectively address the single greatest overarching foreign policy issue facing the U.S. since day one of his Administration - the continued viability of Iran's theocracy and that theocracy's drive for a nuclear weapon. This is a regime every bit as dipped in blood as that of Pol Pot's and, as they draw ever closer to having a nuclear arsenal, every bit as threatening to the world as that of Hitler. To repeat the assessment of Iran by then Defense Secretatry Robert Gates in 2008:

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. . . . There can be little doubt that their destabilizing foreign policies are a threat to the interests of the United States, to the interests of every country in the Middle East, and to the interests of all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing.

Iran's push for a nuclear weapon could very easily end in warfare, with a huge cost for America and the free world in blood and gold.  Indeed, published estimates are that Iran is a year away from having a nuclear weapon - and Israel, the country most immediately threatened by the bloody mad mullahs, will almost certainly go to war with Iran before then.

For a decade, it was the U.S. leading the way on attempting to force Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.  But in the age of Obama, after two years of Chamberlainesque outreach to the bloody mad mullahs and tepid sanctions that have done nothing to change the trajectory of the mullah's nuclear weapons program, Britain and France stepped in to fill the free world's leadership vacuum with what amounts to a last ditch effort.  On 21 Nov., Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that "all British financial institutions [must cease] business relationships and transactions with all Iranian banks, including their Central Bank of Iran."  France's President Sarkozy is pushing for similar sanctions to be adopted throughout the EU.

Such a move could effectively shut down Iran's economy if followed throughout the EU and the U.S.  And indeed, in the absence of Presidential leadership, the U.S. Senate, on a vote of 100 to 0, approved a bipartisan bill that would end U.S. financial institutions ability to conduct transactions with all institutions, foreign and domestic, that deal with the Central Bank of Iran.  Indeed, the only dissenting voice to be heard came from . . . wait for it . . . the Obama administration?  What?

Why would the "leader of the free world" want no vote on sanctions that could effectively punish Iran and, perhaps, head off what increasingly looks like a certain war?

It is not a hard question to answer.  Obama is clearly looking at the scales - on one side, a critical issue of national security with potentially existential ramifications; on the other side, what is best for Obama's reelection effort through November 2012.  I wonder if such a competing considerations gave Obama pause for even a moment?

These real sanctions present a two-fold problem for Obama.  Actually enforcing the sanctions could lead to instability in the price of oil.  Failing to enforce the sanctions could lead to Obama being challenged during the height of the campaign for putting politics far above our nation's best interests.  Thus the school solution for this intractable problem - don't vote in any new sanctions on Iran.  War, the loss of life, and the economic hardships of war all pale in comparison to Obama's reelection campaign.

No comments: