American Elephants


The More We Learn, the Weirder It Gets! Some Deal! by The Elephant's Child

US-Secretary-of-State-John-Kerry-resumes-nuclear-negotiations-with-Iran

On July 15, six days ago, President Obama had a press conference to extoll the “comprehensive, long-term deal that we have achieved with our allies and partners to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon represents a powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy.” It wasn’t really a press conference. He was not interested in questions, but only in getting his spin across. Very little was true, lots of straw men, and the major take-away was about Major Garrett’s question about the four Americans held in Iran on trumped-up charges, a question Obama did not want to address. It’s worth reading the president’s claims to grasp the administration position.

In light of the president’s comments, it is very useful to note that the Iranian negotiators have not signed any agreement, and may not.
Michael Ledeen explains. It seems to be a matter of the Ayatollah Khamenei hating the Great American Satan so much that they don’t want to make a deal — even though they want the concessions. The head of the Revolutionary Guards announced that the Grand Bargain was unacceptable and would be rejected.

John Kerry has been hitting all the media opportunities to try to sell the deal. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei , in the meantime, denounced the United States in a new speech. “Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all,” he said, reminding Iranians that “American policies are 180 degrees different from us,” while chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” were heard in the background.

Secretary Kerry admitted that he was troubled by those statements in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya News.  This is not exactly new, one would think that Mr. Kerry might have noticed before this.

Khamenei also mentioned Iran would never “stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon”— all the same old terrorists.



President Obama is Writing Privately to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by The Elephant's Child

Iranian_Supreme_Leader_Ayatollah_Ali_Khamenei

The news today is full of reports about the presidential correspondence with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The October letter was Obama’s fourth time to write Iran’s most powerful political and religious leader since 2009. The correspondence clearly indicates the importance with which Mr. Obama views America’s relations with Iran. The Wall Street Journal wrote:

The letter appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.

Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say. …

The combination of stiff sanctions and the surprising drop in the price of oil combined with the rise of Sunni Islamic State militants had moved the relationship into an effective state of détente. That shift could presage more problems in the balance of power in the region and alienate key U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates who are central to the coalition fighting the Islamic State. Iran remains the world’s leading sponsor of terror and abuses of its own people.

Iran has watched while the U.S. heckles Israel about its conduct in the war in Gaza, allows Bashar al-Assad to continue his mass murder, refused to consider more sanctions, countenanced insulting remarks about the elected representative of the Jewish people, and watched the administration’s response to Russia, to China, and continuing refusal to consider “boots on the ground in Iraq” as evidence of the character of the Obama administration. It seems clear that the world has taken the measure of the Obama administration and believes the United States to be weak and indecisive.

The administration, on the other hand, seems to regard the current state of affairs as a potential opening to a diplomatic deal on their nuclear ambitions.

One wonders which part of “DEATH TO AMERICA!” and “Death to the Great Satan” and “Death to the Little Satan” is it that Mr. Obama doesn’t understand?

Mr. Obama and his team have assumed the chances for a deal with Iran at only 50-50. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with his Iranian counterpart on Sunday in the Persian Gulf country of Oman. Unfortunately, they considered the diplomatic negotiations with Iran so sensitive that they didn’t tell its Middle East allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE about Mr. Obama’s October letter. Leaders from those countries have expressed growing concern that softening demands from the U.S. to try to reach “a deal” with Iran will allow Iran to gain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

The deadline for a nuclear deal is November 24. Iran is adopting a hardline negotiating position. So what harm can a letter from the American president do?

Actually, a lot. The Journal quotes a senior White House official who provides context for Obama’s outreach: “We’ve passed on messages to the Iranians . . . saying our objective is against ISIL. We’re not using this as a platform to reoccupy Iraq or to undermine Iran.”

Saying this to Iran is the diplomatic equivalent of telling an ill-reputed used-car salesman, “Money is no object, I don’t need a test drive, and I’m desperate to buy today.” It’s not very clever.

Iran’s hardliners are likely to see the president’s latest letter as a verification of increasing American malleability. But there’s a deeper issue here. As I noted in September, the administration’s willingness to see the best in Iran without challenging the worst manages to inspire only the latter. While we offer friendship, from Beirut to Baghdad, from Sanaa to Washington, Iran forges power through violent opportunism.

Other headlines don’t offer much confidence: “Pentagon: Iran Giving ‘Lethal Aid to the Taliban to Fight U.S.and Report: Iran Nuclear Program More Advanced that Previously Believed. or from the Weekly Standard: The Most Dangerous Man in the World.”

What can possibly go wrong?

 




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