Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security | Tags: Embarrassing!, Obama's Iran Deal, The Saban Forum at Brookings
President Obama appeared at the Brooking’s Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington D.C. He responded to questions put to him by Haim Saban, the forum chairman. The discussion focused on the “interim deal” with Iran, although it covered the Israel-AP peace talks and the agreement with Syria to destroy its chemical weapons as well.
The Washington Times covered Obama’s appearance here, and Politico here, if watching the video is beyond your tolerance level. If Mr. Obama believes that he is actually getting anything in exchange for the relaxation of sanctions, he is far more ill-informed about foreign policy than I thought.
In spite of our current economic problems, the United States has the power to impose crippling sanctions on Iran and to enforce them. Iranian chants of “Death to America” are not children’s playground taunts. We were told, before Geneva, that Iran was just a month from a bomb. Iran is well supplied with oil and gas, and does not need nuclear power to keep the lights on. Their sole interest is nuclear weapons and the ability to strike Israel and America at will. They have in mind the return of the Mahdi and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. When they keep telling us so, sooner or later, we possibly should start believing that they mean it.
We don’t require Iran’s agreement to accept crippling economic sanctions. We just impose them.
Iran, Obama said, will always retain some nuclear enrichment capability simply because it is no longer a terribly difficult process.
“Theoretically, they will always have some capability because technology here is available to any good physics student at pretty much any university around the world,” he said. “And they have already gone through the cycle to the point where the knowledge we are not going to be able to eliminate. But what we can do is eliminate the incentive for them to want to do this.”
As he has before, Obama defended the six-month deal to relax some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for some weapons inspections as not ideal, but better than the alternative of doing nothing.
When I hear people criticize the Geneva deal say it’s got to be all or nothing, I would just remind them that if it’s nothing, if we did not even try for this next six months to do this, all the breakout capacity we are concerned about would accelerate in the next six months,” Obama said. “They’d be that much closer to breakout capacity six months from now. And that’s why I think it’s important for us to test this proposition.”
“Not ideal but better than doing nothing?” “You see we can’t expect Iran to relinquish its nuclear program because it won’t!”
If one thought that preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons was the object of the exercise, then the Geneva deal is incomprehensible. The only real explanation of the deal is that we seek to protect Iran’s nuclear program and accept their development of nuclear weapons.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Progressivism, Terrorism | Tags: John Kerry's Incompetence, The Geneva Accords, The Islamic Republic of Iran
So many of President Obama’s policies leave one puzzled. What can he possibly be thinking? Why would he do this? Why would he assume this to be a good idea? Particularly in the case of the interim agreement that the United States and its partners cut with Iran last week in Geneva which seems to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The core objective of the past two decades — preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — and threatening fundamental regional and global interests have been ignored. Nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, strengthening the forces of radicalism and terrorism in the region — what can he be thinking?
We have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who pursued a policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler, and agreed to the Nazi demand that Czechoslovakia should cede the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany to stave off a threatened invasion — without consulting the Czechs.
Obama does manifest some of Chamberlain’s trusting naïveté and insular self-righteousness. More important perhaps, like Chamberlain, Obama thinks his job is to accommodate domestic war-weariness and to keep us out of foreign conflicts. Also like Chamberlain, Obama in the Middle East has inclined toward appeasing Muslims at the expense of Jews in the Holy Land. And like Chamberlain, Obama will go down in history as a failed leader of the leading Western democracy, one whose policies will have to be reversed—one hopes this time at less cost—by his successor.
Churchill succeeded Chamberlain in 1940 and saved the West.
The Obama administration apparently believes that the supreme leader might forsake his historic quest for nuclear weapons begun under the Ayatollah Khomeini and carried forth under Khamenei and every Iranian president. The United States, “the epicenter of evil” has rallied the West against the Islamic Republic.
The idea seems to be that the supreme leader, and his Revolutionary Guards who control the nuclear program, terrorist operations and domestic riot-control aren’t sufficiently committed to developing a nuclear weapon that the persuasive voices of moderation from the Obama administration can seduce them from this dangerous path. Um, they seem to believe that the newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, and foreign minister Mohammad Zarif are forces for moderation. The evidence for this is a nice smile and a lot of fantasy. They believe that Rouhani must be a reformer — he has a PhD from a Scottish university. Ruel Marc Gerecht, who is an expert, spells out the evidence for fantasy. Do read the whole thing.
At the core of Washington’s debate about Iran’s nuclear program is a confluence of naïveté and fear of another war in the Middle East. The latter reinforces the former and bends the analysis of Iran’s internal politics. It makes America’s foreign policy elite, which has never been a particularly God-fearing crowd, even more blind to the role of religion in Iran’s politics. The president himself appears to believe passionately that an irenic American foreign policy insulates the United States from Muslim anger and terrorism.
No one in the Middle East believes that Obama would order a strike. The Washington foreign-policy establishment have conceded the bomb to Iran. They argue for “containment.” The only thing that matters is that we will not bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. Most on the Left do not envision any need for a militarily strong and aggressive America pushing back against Iranian adventurism. Containment is a synonym for patient, peaceful engagement and American withdrawal. Gerecht summarizes:
President Obama’s eagerness to avoid an unpleasant binary choice—surrender publicly to Tehran’s nuclear fait accompli or preempt militarily—will have led him to a situation where he confronts the same choice, but with Iran’s hand stronger and America’s weaker. Khamenei will have called Obama’s bluff—and will have billions more in his bank account. In all probability, the president has bought into a process of diminishing returns that he cannot abandon for fear of the cruel binary choice. For that matter, he may already have decided that the left-wing of the Democratic party is right.
Well, that’s what we get when the president can’t be bothered to attend his intelligence briefings. Does he worry at all about the new ICBMs being developed by North Korea and Iran?
Dan Bongino, former Secret Service member, now running for Congress in Maryland, has said that the White House staff were like kids with a shiny new toy. No one knew anything about government, and they treated the president like a cult figure — if he said it, it must be true. Nothing could be more dangerous than an ideologically-driven megalomaniac surrounded by obsequious yes-men in the White House.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Israel, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: Appeasing the Enemy, Foreign Policy Mistake, Nuclear Deal With Iran
The headline read: “Iran: White House Lying About Details of Nuke Deal.”
Iranian officials say that the White House is misleading the public about the details of an interim nuclear agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva. …
The White House released a multi-page fact sheet containing details of the draft agreement shortly after the deal was announced. However, an Iranian foreign ministry official on Tuesday rejected the White House’s version of the deal as “invalid” and accused Washington of releasing a factually inaccurate primer that misleads the American public.”
Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran. Iran proclaims no limits on their right to continue enriching uranium which should set alarm bells ringing loudly. They want time off from the sanctions that are disrupting their economy, so they can enrich in peace. John Bolton, who has long experience with Iran, says:
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing, weaponization research and fabrication, and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
Second, Iran has gained Legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club. Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.
Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more. Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges. Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U .S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.
Iran declares regularly its radical hatred for Israel and the United States. It continues to sponsor terrorism on a wide scale. It regularly states its wish to annihilate Israel even at the risk of its own self-destruction. From the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran and imprisonment of embassy personnel for 444 days until today, we have had no reason to trust Iran at any time. It is appeasement of the worst kind, and puts one of our greatest allies at greater risk.
If President Obama thought he was changing the subject from the ballooning disaster of ObamaCare with a “deal” that Americans would like, he was mistaken. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) spoke out at the end of October about a report claiming Iran is one month away from a nuclear bomb, ‘extremely alarming. ‘ The Institute for Science and International Security says Iran could produce one bomb in as little as 1 to 1.6 months, or using only 3.5 percent low enriched uranium, could make 4 bombs in 1.9 to 2.2 months using all of its existing 3.5 percent enriched uranium. Seems like a fine time to go for appeasement.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: "The Deal of the Century", A Nuclear Pact With Iran, The Lessons of History
Secretary of State John Kerry returned from
Munich Geneva waving a document and proclaiming peace in our time “we have a deal.” The Obama administration regards the deal as a great accomplishment for the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Journalist Claudia Rosett describes the negotiations:
The world powers have been itching to hand Iran what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accurately described as “the deal of the century — the ticket to the nuclear arsenal the Tehran regime covets, and for which the infrastructure would be left in place.” So eager are some of these world powers to produce a signed piece of paper that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, for the second time in a month, decided to race to Geneva, ready to close the deal. Evidently it is no deterrent to the Obama administration that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei chose to punctuate rounds two and three of these nuclear talks by delivering a speech to Basij militiamen (who greeted him with chants of “Death to America”) in which he compared Israel to a “rabid dog,” said its officials “cannot be called human,” and added,” the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
History is not a strong point of the Obama administration, but we have many examples of pacts with enemies, when the West is desperately hoping for peace, and anxious to avoid confrontation.
“Chamberlain returned from Munich to England. At Heston where he landed, he waved the joint declaration which he had got Hitler to sign, and read it to the crowd of notables and others who welcomed him. From the windows at Downing Street he waved his piece of paper again and used these words, “This is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time.”*
At the Nuremberg Trials, Colonel Eger, representing Czechoslovakia, asked Marshal Keitel: “Would the Reich have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 if the Western Powers had stood by Prague?”
Marshal Keitel answered: “Certainly not. We were not strong enough militarily. The object of Munich was to get Russia out of Europe, to gain time, and to complete the German armaments.”*
Claudia Rosett adds:
Then there is the also-obvious. Talks like these are a great boon to rogue regimes — just ask North Korea (which has parlayed two decades of nuclear freeze deals into time and resources for three nuclear tests, and appears to be preparing its underground nuclear test site for a fourth detonation). Iran’s regime is a terror-sponsoring government under sanctions for its rogue nuclear weapons program, and in theory its rulers are being shunned and “isolated” — or so we’ve been told. … Negotiations such as these, especially if they lead to a deal, serve as credentials, painting a veneer of legitimacy on regimes that deserve none.
The media, given to hyperbole, has declared this an historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions. ($6 billion+)
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade. Kerry said the goal of the talks was to “require Iran to prove the peaceful nature of its program and ensure that it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Iran keeps its enrichment program and reactor in Arak, and just halts work. There is no indication that their pursuit of a nuclear weapon is peaceful in intent. They have also announced plans for two more nuclear power plants. I think history has lessons for us, and we do well to pay attention.
*from The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Iran, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Negotiator Valerie Jarrett?, The Geneva Talks With Iran, Year Long Secret Deals
The Times of Israel reports that “the Geneva negotiations between the so-called P5+1 powers and Iran are a mere “facade,”because the terms of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated in talks between a top adviser to President Barack Obama and a leading Iranian nuclear official that have continued in secret for more than a year, Israeli television reported Sunday.”
The report, which relied on unnamed senior Israeli officials, said the US team to the secret talks was led by Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Her primary interlocutor, the report said, was the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi. The talks have been taking place in various Gulf states…
According to Channel 10, the secret channel marginalized Kerry, and was overseen by the president. The idea had been for Kerry merely to fly to Geneva, as he did last Friday, to sign a deal in which he had been a bit player. In the event, factors such as the French stance, and Israel’s very public objections, derailed this plan, and the talks broke up last Saturday without an agreement
White House spokesman Bernadette Meehan was quoted by Haaretz as saying that the report was “absolutely, 100 percent false.”
President Obama badly wants Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program in return for easing international economic sanctions — which have been working quite successfully and have brought Iran to the negotiating table. Critics say that Iran could cheat far more easily than the rest of the world could reinstate tough sanctions.
Mr. Obama thinks that relaxing sanctions is reversible. Sanctions and arms agreements have a long history of failure. Democratic countries do not get what they bargained for, and then find themselves unable or unwilling to enforce the bargain.
According to Douglas Feith, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, the democracies are apt to hype the agreement to their voters as a proud diplomatic achievement. Their non-democratic opponents cheat, and Islamic countries are encouraged by the Koran to lie, cheat and dissemble. The mullahs have been in charge of Iran since the revolution in 1979, when the Shah fled into exile.
It is clear that Israel is deeply worried. Congress is not pleased with attempts at a bargain with Iran. The administration fights any new sanctions. And Russia will help Iran build a second nuclear power plant according to Tehran’s top nuclear official.
I fail to understand why the Obama administration would place any faith in any agreement with Iran, or why they would believe it to be a good deal. We should know better. Vast crowds screaming “Death to America” would seem to be a hint that perhaps the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons isn’t going to be easily abandoned. The Saudis are deeply concerned, and are working with Israel, which might be another gentle hint that something is amiss for Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry — and Ms. Jarrett as well.
Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran and still has connections there. She is a close adviser to the Obamas, but has no known record as a foreign policy negotiator. Michael Ledeen is better than most at grasping the obvious:
It’s not easy to make a deal with Iran (and even when you think you’ve made one, you might be wrong). The failure of the Geneva talks is just another in a long series of such failures. Even the public events are part of the well-established pattern: the secretary of state jumps on a plane and flies to meet with the Iranians. But when he gets there, he finds it’s not quite a done deal. And in the wee hours of the morning two days later, there’s no deal at all.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: Blinded by Ideology, Kerry's Munich, U.S. National Security
General Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said, according to the Fars News Agency, run by the Revolutionary Guards, “America’s interests and all of Israel are within the range of the Islamic Republic and there is not the slightest doubt among Iran’s armed forces to confront the American government and the Zionists.” He mocked President Obama’s position that the military option remains on the table over Iran’s nuclear development. “If America had the ability and the will for war, it would allow no doubt in attacking Syria. America will soon find out that Iran’s power cannot be ignored.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran will not agree to halt its nuclear enrichment rights under any deal with the West. “The Islamic Republic of Iran makes no deal over its right” Zarif told reporters after daylong negotiations with the West in Geneva over Iran’s state-run nuclear program.
Iranian negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi revealed on Thursday that the West had accepted Tehran’s proposed framework for a nuclear deal. He said that Iran’s enrichment rights are the county’s ‘redline.”
U.S. sources familiar with the talks said that America is prepared to relax sanctions on Iran and work closely with it during a “six month confidence building period,” according to Reuters.
According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the proposed agreement to relax economic sanctions while reigning in only parts of Iran’s nuclear program —was a “sucker’s deal.” It was Mr. Fabius and the French government whose well-deserved skepticism blocked the bargain intensely sought by the Obama administration and the Iranian mullahs. Yet in Geneva even France seems ready to join the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K. and Germany in being ready to grant de facto recognition of the Islamic republic’s “right” to enrich uranium. — because they have already accepted Iran’s spinning centrifuges. The deal-breaker for France was that construction would continue on Iran’s heavy-water reactor, giving Tehran a pathway to a plutonium bomb, and no single piece of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would be dismantled.
What are these people thinking? Right now, Iran is a weak country.We will never again have as much economic leverage over Iran as we do just now. The sanctions have been working and helped to jump-start the presidential campaign of Hasan Rouhani who was elected on promises to court the West and rescue their economy. Whether or not sanctions work depends on the threat of escalation, where restrictions scare off foreign businesses who want Iran’s energy.
New financial sanctions could lock up all of Iran’s currency reserved held abroad, which would effectively collapse Iran’s currency. Iran is intent upon becoming a nuclear power, but after the deplorable American policy in Syria, it is America that seems to be the weak nation with no commitment to it own power.
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” discussing negotiations in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program, Nov. 10:
“This is a country that has tens of thousands of people in the street chanting “death to America,” the other day. “This is a country that is participating, as we speak, in a mass slaughter of men, women and children—tens of thousands of them—in Syria.”
It’s not only my concern that this is a bad deal. There are many, many Arab leaders in the region who are saying this is a very bad deal for the region and for the world. And you know, when you have the Arabs and the Israelis speaking in one voice, it doesn’t happen very often, I think it’s worth paying attention.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Can Obama Be Trusted?, Geneva "Peace" Talks, Secretary of State Kerry
It’s a theme I’ve run into many times in novels, the idea that there is a certain point at which many people stop in their growth and openness to new ideas. They do fine for years, but at some point they have received all accepted knowledge, and are no longer open to revision of their worldview. I sort of accepted that as a little weird, but I knew a few people who did seem stuck in the past. The adult who remains the cheerleader she was in college, the man who can’t quite relinquish his football hero days.
Barack Obama was swept up in radical politics at Columbia, if not before. He said in his book that he went to every socialist meeting he could find, and somewhere in there or in his community organizer days he acquired fixed ideas about the country and about the world. Richard Epstein notes that once Obama believes something, it is set in concrete. He does not change his mind.
The president has been certain that the central problem in the Middle East is the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and if that is solved, there will be peace. He has continually been trying to “restart” the “peace process,” without the slightest notion that as long as Palestinians teach their little children that killing Jews is their noblest goal, there is no hope of any peace process.
The foreign policy experts who study Iran are worried about Iranian progress on nuclear weapons, but Obama is sure that his charisma will allow his Secretary of State to make peace with the mullahs in Iran. The collapse of the so-called “Arab Spring” made no dent in his convictions, he has denied the resurgence of al Qaeda, refused to give up on the Muslim Brotherhood, and slashed aid to the Egyptians who threw Morsi out. The Saudis have lost all faith in help or assistance from the Americans in controlling Iran, and are looking for nuclear technology., and turning for help to the Russians.
Obama’s signature accomplishment is turning sour. As James Taranto said “The exposure of Obamacare as a massive consumer fraud —and of Obama as the Bernie Madoff of politics— is well underway.” Obama wants a major triumph, and he wants it badly. Ordinary things like 20,000 jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline don’t measure up. He needs something big to match the presidential ego.
The only world leader who seems to understand what is happening is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is warning that a pact easing sanctions “would be a mistake of historic proportions.” The deal being hatched in Geneva, and apparently we are already easing the sanctions, is precisely an effort to short-circuit Israel’s own options. History is not kind to appeasers. The New York Sun is not kind to Secretary of State Kerry’s history, character, and role in the current negotiations.
The Times of Israel reports that “the Obama administration plans to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the beginning of 2014. The Americans want to move from coordinating between the two sides to a phase of active intervention.”
According to Gal-on, whose left-wing Meretz party is in the opposition, the plan is based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed land swaps and will cover all of the core issues. …
The scheme is spread out over a gradual timetable, calls for the investment of billions of dollars in the Palestinian economy, and will include a suggestion for a broader regional peace treaty based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The initiative, first proposed by the Arab League in 2002, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians together with normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world. Central to the initiative was the complete withdrawal of Israel to its pre-1967 lines and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The Obama Administration, eagerly seeking a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, is now signaling that it will ease the sanctions that finally forced Tehran to the negotiating table.
In fact, the White House has already chosen to lighten Iran’s sanctions burden by slowing the implementation of existing sanctions and delaying congressional legislation that would impose new sanctions. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported in today’s Daily Beast that the Administration began softening sanctions after the June election of Hassan Rouhani by slowing the pace of designating Iranian front companies, individuals, ships, and aircraft as sanctions violators.
The Administration has also lobbied Congress to postpone any new sanctions to avoid disrupting the current round of negotiations with Iran. But this is a gross misreading of the situation. The prospect of new sanctions would enhance American bargaining leverage with Iran and increase the chances that an acceptable agreement can be negotiated with the recalcitrant regime in Tehran.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is saying that only sanctions and the threat of the use of force on Israel’s part are the only things that brought Iran back to the negotiating table, it’s hard to understand why making it harder for Tehran to sell its oil and conduct business with those willing to risk the ire of the West would scare them away again. But many Democrats are not willing to ease sanctions.
Most of the articles suggest that this is Kerry’s initiative, but I suspect that Kerry has his marching orders from Obama, and knows what he has to try to bring back to his boss. Any assumption that Rouhani’s charm offensive is meaningful is based on wishful thinking of the West. The time is running short. Be very worried.
Here are some additional links:
— How Can We Possibly Trust Obama on Iran? PJ Media
— Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early As Friday Wall Street Journal
— More Pressure on Iran Can’t Wait Commentary
— Exclusive: Obama’s Secret Iran Détente The Daily Beast
— More Obama Problems: Kerry’s Peace Push Commentary
— Kerry meets Iran foreign minister to close gaps in nuclear talks Reuters
Filed under: Europe, Intelligence, Iran, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: American Intelligence, Foreign Policy, The NSA Flap
How do governments find out what other countries are thinking, what they really plan, what they are talking about behind the scenes? Read the papers? Listen to the speeches? Hang around people who might know something? Yes, and much more. Nations need intelligence about what other nations may do. Nations have interests, and nations have allies, but we still need to know what’s going on behind the facade. So do they. Nations spy. So what? When a spy infiltrates the government of another nation, they try to root it out, and may send him to prison or shoot him.
For some real insight into the current flap about the revelations of whashis name Edward Snowden, please read this piece by a career diplomat who has served in many parts of the world. Actually, add him to your blog list while you’re at it. He is invaluable.
Hardly necessary to emphasize the absurdity of Germany, France, and other nations getting so huffy about American taps on their communications. American outrage about communication monitoring has given other nations room to pose. Their citizens will act as if the United States has treated them with intolerable suspicion, and believe that the American president may have lost control of his own intelligence services and they have become victims. Germany and other nations have shown no commitment to hard power or in taking sides. Europe has long settled comfortably under the umbrella of American power. With Mr. Obama trying hard to diminish American power, other nations are getting nervous. It’s easier to feel put upon by the Americans.
Will Mrs. Merkel say again, as she did in 2007, “For me, as German chancellor, Israel’s security is never negotiable. Protecting Israel is part of my country’s reason of state. I believe that an hour of truth has now arrived when we must show we stand by our word.
Funny how the chancellor of the world’s third-largest arms-dealing country, in her reluctance to talk of any use of force anywhere, is looking like Mr. Obama’s doppelgänger. Yet she says America needs friends—although surely not ones thinking Washington will want to spy less effectively.
This excerpt from Walter Russell Mead writing on U.S. Negotiations with Iran explains a lot.
Judging from what we see from the outside, the White House does not appear to have a clear strategy in mind at this point, but the trajectory of its internal drift suggests that many there (perhaps including the President) would be ready to sell the Crescent to Iran in exchange for a face-saving, war-avoiding nuclear deal. This is probably how Jerusalem, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Riyadh are all reading the President’s deep reluctance to take decisive action against Assad. In Jerusalem, this belief leads people to want to engage closely with the Americans in an effort to make sure that any deal addresses Israel’s red lines on nukes and Hezbollah. In Tehran it strengthens the hands of those who favor the course of negotiations; Obama appears willing to pay a substantial price for the nuclear deal and the very act of engaging weakens American power and promotes the Shi’a cause. In Riyadh this perception heightens the rage and fear that people there feel and has led to what, by Saudi standards, is a public tantrum of epic proportions. In Moscow this is seen as both a satisfying symbolic setback for the United States and a substantial victory over the Sunni jihadi threat the Kremlin sees as a major threat. In Beijing it is read as another chapter in the story of American decline.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Politics | Tags: Diplomatic Ties, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign Policy
And on the Foreign Policy front, all is not well either. So how is that vow to “repair America’s frayed alliances” supposedly frayed and battered by the Bush administration working out?
The Kingdom is not keeping secret any longer its disgust with the administration’s policy drift in the Middle East. Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington explained his view of the deal Washington struck with Moscow over Syria’s chemical weapons.
“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal,” the Prince told a London audience, “would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad butcher his people.” It’s a rare occasion when a Saudi royal has the moral standing to lecture an American President, but this was one of them.
The Saudis asked the U.S. to beef up our naval presence in the Persian Gulf against a potential Iranian counter-strike, only to be told that we didn’t have the ships. Mr. Obama was nonchalant about our shrinking Navy. But there are consequences for our actions on the international scene.
If you look at foreign newspapers, it is surprising how much of their “news” is devoted to America and what we’re doing, whether it’s fads or politics or policy. Americans, on the other hand, probably because we live in a big country with major cities across the U.S., don’t really pay much attention to what is going on elsewhere. Part of that is simply language. Most other countries learn English as their second language, Most Americans take a language course in high school, but never learn to speak one.
Mr. Obama has been quite clear that he wants the U.S. to be just another nation among other nations, not a superpower. He opposed the Iraq War as a “dumb war” with no understanding of why we were there, and assumed that the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” bin Laden, which he couldn’t quite bring himself to order when it came to it, until forced into it. We had won the Iraq war, but V.P. Biden could not arrange a status-of-forces agreement, and when al Qaeda in Iraq returned and started killing Iraqis, their foreign minister begged for us to return, but too late. The War in Afghanistan was to be conducted “nicely,” with our troops training Afghan recruits with unloaded weapons to show our niceness, which got a lot of our troops killed. I would be willing to bet that Mr. Obama has never seen a military movie, nor read either any military history, nor any of the great military novels. I may be wrong.
The troubles with Saudi Arabia have been developing for some time. David Ignatius wrote that “Saudi officials in Riyadh that they told him that they increasingly regarded the U.S. as unreliable and would look elsewhere for their security. in 2011.” They were dismayed when we deposed Mubarak and even more so when we backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. They are afraid of the Iran/Syria nuclear adventurism, as are many other countries in the Middle East, with reason. The Syrian rebels have learned that there really aren’t any red lines, and any adversary can call our bluff. Obama is more eager to court enemies than reassure friends, as the Poles and Czechs have learned, when we withdrew ballistic-missile defense as a way to appease the Russians.
Fouad Ajami explains the problems of the Obama foreign policy cogently in a piece at the Wall Street Journal today, which may be behind a subscription barrier, but read it if you can.
We must not underestimate the tenacity of this regime and its will to rule. We should see through the rosy Twitter messages of President Hasan Rouhani, and the PowerPoint presentations of his foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif. These men carry out the writ of the supreme leader and can only go as far as the limit drawn by the Revolutionary Guard. …
The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Liberalism, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: "The Burdens of Global Citizenship", "The International Community", Barack Obama's Worldview
Commentary Magazine has published a preview article from its September issue at their “Contentions” blog: “The Citizen of the World Presidency” by Elliott Abrams. He is a deeply thoughtful Foreign Policy scholar, and the lengthy essay is quite wonderful. If you are not alarmed about American foreign policy, you haven’t been paying attention.
It is perhaps more a growing sense of unease, trying to figure out what our foreign policy, if any, is? Mr. Abrams spells out where we are, and shares the unease. The essay is, in a way, comforting, for it clarifies that our worries are not unique and we are not alone. Do read the whole thing, it is deeply informative, and if unsettling, will give you not only food for thought, but new direction. Probably the most important essay you will read this year.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Humor, Iran, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Russia, The United States | Tags: Rudy Giuliani, The Power Game, Vladimir Putin
Said Rudy Giuliani :
“Who would you
give greater odds
a former KGB agent
or a former
know how to
play this game.
This is why,
I wasn’t kidding,
this is an
of world power,
against a man
who has extremely
“This is the price
we pay for
voting for an
This is incompetence
elected a president
who was never
to be president,
the job out
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Military, Russia, The United States | Tags: Brutality in Libya, Misunderstanding the Middle East, Our Administration Mired in Scandal
Obama came into office as the Progressive Messiah, brilliant, a polymath, who was going to fix all the depredations committed by George W. Bush. “This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm the fundamental truth — that out of many we are one; that while we breathe we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt; and those who tell us that we can’t —we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we Can.” That went well.
Didn’t happen, any of it. It was just talk. But the people wanted to believe. Obama’s second term was not based on what he promised to do, but upon the sheer awfulness of Mitt Romney, with some serious help from the Internal Revenue Service, plus putting off anything disagreeable until after the election. After the election, the disagreeable stuff started to assert itself. We began to grasp just what had really happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and that the administration had sent out administration officials to lie about it. The details began to come out, and the “Arab Spring” was noticeably falling apart, while Obama offered support to the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. to keep it in power, without noticing that this was a radical Islamist administration.
Then the details of the IRS scandal began to appear, blamed on a couple of low-level rogue workers in a back room in Cincinnati. The use of a government bureau to help to swing an election by refusing 501(c)(4) status to groups that disagree with the administration, releasing information to their political opponents, frightening donors, and the appalling consequences of loss of trust were just beginning to sink into the American consciousness, when the unsuspected reach the government’s surveillance of telephone records, email and Facebook pages into the activities of U.S. citizens without their knowledge shocked America. We had Edward Snowden’s revelations from Honk Kong, for whatever they are worth, to disturb nations around the world. There were the AP subpoenas, and the Fox investigation revealing another scandal involving the Justice department.
The reaction to the information that telephone carriers were supplying the government with call logs and leading technology companies were participating in a secret surveillance program known as PRISM, was a direct assault on public trust, for the public uses telephones, and email, and computers, and Facebook and Twitter. So where is the president? Out of the country, but he reappeared just long enough to remind people that he was not
Darth Vader Dick Cheney, who reminded the country in the president’s absence, that there are terrorists out there and the law is supposed to protect the privacy of American citizens while trying to track down terrorists under close control of the courts.
So in the center of all this scandal, the president sent forth an aide to announce that the “red line” in Syria had been crossed and Assad was indeed using poison gases on his own people. Somewhat late, but better late than never? The CIA will supply weapons to the rebels, and supposedly we are able to sort the nice rebels from the al Qaeda ones.
We apparently have some 4500 troops practically on the Syrian order engaging in “wargames” with Jordan, which has incensed the other neighbors. Obama clearly does not want to really do anything, but on the other hand there are all those people dying and some want him to do something. Iran has announced that it is sending 4000 troops to aid Assad. The general opinion of those who really know something about the region is that we should stay out entirely, and send food and medicine to alleviate the suffering of the innocent.
This does not bode well, and promises to become another mess.