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Ron Radosh

Obama: Which Way on Iran?

March 25th, 2009 - 4:44 pm

These words are somewhat disingenuous. “Some people” did not exactly claim what Obama said they did. Rather, they argued that talk and olive branches alone would be self-defeating, and would guarantee the negative response the US got from the mullahs.

 Others, who are favorable to Obama, have a different read on what Obama is thinking. David Blair, diplomatic editor of the British Telegraph, believes that Obama is following a shrewd and thoughtful policy, one based on unsettling its mullahs by praising Iran’s accomplishments, showing them respect by calling the regime “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” rather than simply making hostile comments about the nature of the regime, therefore assuring hostility from its leaders. Moreover, Blair argues that Obama is appealing to Westernized Iranian youth and hence “seeking to widen the divide between the regime and its people.”  How Obama is doing that without mentioning the continuing repression of outspoken youth and supporting their cause, however, is hard to comprehend.

Blair also believes that Obama is seeking to exploit rifts within the Iranian leadership, since hard-liners will not be able to unite the government behind anti-Americanism, as Ahmadinejad did during the Bush years. Thus, Obama’s kind words will serve to “help the president’s opponents in the [Iranian] election by raising the possibility of a genuine rapprochement with America.”   Blair suspects that in private the Ayatollah is ready to move towards a deal, because of the severe economic crisis facing his country. If he wants to save his regime, so this argument goes, he will improve ties with America which would make survival that more likely.

As for Obama, he thinks the President is in a win-win situation. If it works and Iran backs down, he will achieve a major diplomatic coup. If it does not, and Obama has to act militarily, he can argue that he tried every other path, and it did not work.

The problem with the above, however, is that by that moment, it might be too late. Having allowed Iran to make clear that its aim is to become a nuclear power, and knowing that it may indeed be ready to act in a genocidal fashion with these arms against Israel and its other enemies, waiting for such an ominous development is just too dangerous.  Will the peacemakers who already are saying we should accept a nuclear Iran really be willing to actually let the United States use military force against Iran once it has the bomb? Somehow, I think all kinds of arguments will be waged against it by the Europeans who are doing business with Iran and the Left at home that will see nothing wrong with a nuclear Iran.

What is taking place is a classic fight against the illusionists who believe that talk will work, and that the mullahs will see reason. Even if there is talk, there must be a set deadline that Iran’s leaders cannot extend. Without that, President Obama is likely to face consequences that even his charisma and brilliance will be unable to prevent.

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