I suppose it’s a tribute to the president’s tenacity, or perhaps his inability to think outside the box of conventional wisdom, but he seems to be totally unwilling to accept a Divine gift.
He’s facing some terrible foreign policy decisions, decisions he doesn’t want to make, and he’s right to want to avoid them, because whichever way he tilts, it’s going to be bad for him. Take Afghanistan. McChrystal and Petreus have told him that if he doesn’t go all in, to the tune of forty thousand or so additional American fighters, he’s likely to see the war there go into the tank. Those generals are outstanding leaders and analysts, and if they say that, it’s probably true. On the other hand, President Obama is probably being told by his political brain trust that, if he antes up the forty thousand, there will be anger from his left (his solid base), while if he doesn’t provide the new troops, and bails out, there will be anger from mainstream Americans.
Remember your Patton: “The American people hate a loser.”
So either way, the president is likely to alienate a considerable number of voters. Which, needless to say, displeases him.
Take Iran. The Islamic Republic is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism (or whatever I’m supposed to call it in Newspeak), is directly and indirectly killing Americans most every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is working on atomic bombs. Most of the time, he seems to think that the first two are “management” issues; it’s a variation of law enforcement. But he’s made it clear for quite some time that he is determined to prevent Iran from building its own nukes. He’s said it so many times that one has a tendency to forget the many rhetorical changes:
–On April 6th, “Now, Iran’s leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people.”
–On June 4th, in Cairo, “…It is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.”
–On July 7th, in Moscow, “We should be united in opposing…Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
–On September 23rd, to the United Nations General Assembly, “We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.”
–On September 25th, in Pittsburgh at the G20 meeting, “Iran must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and make clear it is willing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the community of nations. … [T]he Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law.”
–On October 1st, in his press conference, he used both of his basic themes, the “outstretched hand” and the “time is up”: “we’re not interested in talking for the sake of talking. If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely, and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure. If Iran takes concrete steps and lives up to its obligations, there is a path towards a better relationship with the United States, increased integration with the international community, and a better future for all Iranians.”
He had previously given Iran a late September deadline, then let it slide to October 1st, and it has now been extended to an October 18th “followup meeting.”
It’s pretty obvious that Iran has no intention of abandoning its nuclear program. Just look at the headlines in the official press: “Iran will not give up its right under any circumstances,” and “Excellent negotiations today.”