Obama Espouses his Iran Strategy: If, If, If and Blind Hope
Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu April 6th, 2015
Unofficial presidential spokesman and New York Time columnist Thomas Friedman interviewed President Barack Obama Saturday and unwittingly revealed a presidential strategy towards Iran that is based on plain hope and lots of conditional "ifs."
In the interview under the title "The Obama Doctrine and Iran", President Obama elevated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the clear leader in the campaign to bury the emerging deal that is supposed to make sure Iran cannot get its hands on a nuclear weapon.
Prime Minister Netanyahu already has led off a media blitz with interviews on several American television networks on Friday, a strong follow-up to his candid speech to a joint session of Congress last year in which he warned of a bad deal.
President Obama's defense of last week's temporary framework for a final agreement with Iran in June expressed his optimism and hope but did little to convince anyone who is undecided whether the emerging deal is worthwhile.
His assumption - giving it the old college try for diplomacy is better than trying force that cannot force Iran into submission - is the underlying difference in views between Israel and the president.
Obama assumes nothing can stop from getting a nuclear bomb if it wants it, and therefore it is best to try to engage it, change its personality, culture and character and maybe, just maybe, it will become a new creature.
Netanyahu and Israel, with more experience than the entire world when it comes to negotiating with the Muslim world, know that force, whether economic or military, is the only language it understands and that there is such a thing as Iran or an Arab country surrendering, even if they call it a cease-fire in order to uphold their honor.
One of President Obama's weakest arguments in his interview with Friedman was that the policy of "engagement" has succeeded. After pointing out that Cuba does not threaten the United States but Iran does, he nevertheless compared them.
You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.
The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. ... You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.
His entire defense of engagement with Iran is based on the defense budget. It is not clear why he even mentioned Cuba since he admitted there is no comparing the tiny country with Iran.
Friedman, Obama's favorite interviewer, did not bother the president with nuisance questions, such as what followed the Obama administration's engagement with Syria, for starters.
One of the most frequent words Obama used in his interview with Friedman was "if", as in:
-- If in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe.
-- Witness North Korea, which is a problem state that is rendered a lot more dangerous because of their nuclear program. If we can prevent that from happening anyplace else in the world, that’s something where it’s worth taking some risks.
President Obama stated, "Iran has all these potential assets going for it and then added more "ifs":
--If it was a responsible international player;
-- If it did not engage in aggressive rhetoric against its neighbors;
-- If it didn’t express anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment'
-- If it maintained a military that was sufficient to protect itself, but was not engaging in a whole bunch of proxy wars around the region.
After the "ifs," came hope as in, "By virtue of its size, its resources and its people it would be an extremely successful regional power. And so my hope is that the Iranian people begin to recognize that.”
Obama "hopes" Iran, will change, just like he hoped Egypt would change, Iraq would change, Afghanistan would change, Libya would change, Yemen would change and Syria would change.
Yet, he declares, "We’re not naïve — but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change."
And why should Iran change? After all, it is behind some of the worst terrorist attacks in the world through its Hezbollah proxy? It is behind the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. It is arming Hamas with tens of millions of dollars to rebuilt terror tunnels in Gaza. It is sending weapons to Hamas through North Africa. It has deployed troops in Syria to fend off enemies to the Assad regime.
But Obama has an interesting reason why Iran should change. You see, it is America's fault to a certain extent, and all America has to do is show that My Country 'Tis of Thee has changed, and then Iran will change. Obama said:
Part of the psychology of Iran is rooted in past experiences, the sense that their country was undermined, that the United States or the West meddled in first their democracy and then in supporting the Shah and then in supporting Iraq and Saddam during that extremely brutal war.
But what if Iran does not change?
Obama literally shoots the emerging deal in the head with the statement, “It is a good deal even if Iran doesn’t change at all. … fact, you could argue that if they are implacably opposed to us, all the more reason for us to want to have a deal in which we know what they’re doing and that, for a long period of time, we can prevent them from having a nuclear weapon.”
President Obama is giving Prime Minister Netanyahu and Congressional Republicans, and some Democrats, ammunition to state, "The only objective of a deal is to have a deal and not to stop Iran from getting its hands on a nuclear weapon."
The president also contradicted his own assumption that the United States will know if Iran is cheating because "we will be able to inspect and verify what’s happening along the entire nuclear chain from the uranium mines all the way through to the final facilities like Natanz"
That, of course, is based on the assumption that Iran will allow inspections.
After continuing that "we are going to be able to see what they’re doing across the board…and "we’re actually going to be setting up a procurement committee that examines what they’re importing, what they’re bringing in that they might claim as dual-use, .. and, yes, I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors can go anyplace," Obama made an unbelievable admission:
Obviously, a request will have to be made. Iran could object, but what we have done is to try to design a mechanism whereby once those objections are heard, that it is not a final veto that Iran has, but in fact some sort of international mechanism will be in place that makes a fair assessment as to whether there should be an inspection, and if they determine it should be, that’s the tiebreaker, not Iran saying, ‘No, you can’t come here.
He is relying on an "international mechanism" although none of them have worked in Iran.
Obama figures sanctions always can be slapped again on Iran if it reneges on the deal, but by the time the United States has proof - and it won't do anything without proof - it may be too late for Israel.
But the president assures Netanyahu and Jews that the "Israeli people are absolutely protected not just by their own capacities, but also by our commitments."
If Israel is attacked, The United States of America will defend it. but President Obama forgets that if Israel had not staged a pre-emptive strike before being attacked by seven enemy countries in 1967, there might not have been any Israel to defend. Similarly, if Iran, or more likely Hezbollah, attacks Israel with a nuclear weapon, the American Armed Forces will end up defending not Israel but an emerging Caliphate State.
That is exactly why the Sunni Arab kingdoms, led by Saudi Arabia, are standing next to Israel in opposing the emerging deal with Iran.
President Obama's answer to Friedman concerning the Sunni kingdoms displays an incredible and embarrassing ignorance about the Middle East.
Obama has forgotten that Osama bin Laden and other leading terrorists came from wealthy families. Instead, he rolled out the false premise that poverty breeds terror and stated:
[Some Muslim] populations are alienated [and] youth…are underemployed [with] an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances... I think the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries ....
Why is it that we can’t have Arabs fighting [against] the terrible human rights abuses that have been perpetrated, or fighting against what Assad has done? I also think that I can send a message to them about the U.S.’s commitments to work with them and ensure that they are not invaded from the outside, and that perhaps will ease some of their concerns and allow them to have a more fruitful conversation with the Iranians.
He actually believes that Saudi Arabia and other countries that are among the worse human rights violators would even imagine standing up for humanity and fighting for humanity against Assad, whom Obama chose to not to fight. And it should not be forgotten that it was Obama's previous Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who called Assad a "reformer," at the begging of the Arab Spring rebellion there.
The interview with Friedman clearly shows that Obama is concerned that Congress, with the help of Prime Minister Netanyahu, will scuttle the emerging deal with Iran.
He admitted, "It’s not a secret that the Republicans may feel more affinity with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s views of the Iran issue than they do with mine. But [we need to be] keeping that within some formal boundaries, so that the executive branch, when it goes overseas, when it’s communicating with foreign leaders, is understood to be speaking on behalf of the United States of America, not a divided United States of America, making sure that whether that president is a Democrat or a Republican that once the debates have been had here, that he or she is the spokesperson on behalf of U.S. foreign policy."
He reiterated his promise that, “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch."
The problem is that proposed deal could pave the way, as Netanyahu has said, for Iran to get a bomb, during his successor's administration.
Obama's defense of the framework arrangement with Iran was expressed from a position of weakness, exactly the same position in which he placed himself and the United States when he extended the November deadline in talks with Iran.
The moment he assumes that Iran is stronger than sanctions, he is telling the Islamic Republic it also is stronger than "engagement."