James Carroll says President Obama is going to put Iran into checkmate tomorrow:
On Thursday, when the United States confronts Iran over its hidden nuclear facility, one move will be as obvious as a jump in a game of checkers—the threat of tougher sanctions to force open the mountain bunker near Qum to international inspectors, combined with a demand for access to blueprints and personnel. The message will be clear: Tehran will not be allowed to weaponize its nuclear operations.
And later in that article:
The nuclear radicalism that animated Reagan, the abolitionist, plays in a lower key with Obama, but it defines the other move that he will make on Thursday. In effect, it is the carrot that will be quietly dangled before Iran: The U.S. is getting serious about nuclear disarmament.
While I’d dearly love to see Obama do a little shah mat number on Ahmadinejad, to me this looks like nonsense squared.
The sanctions threat is an empty one, unless Russia and China are on board. So far, no dice. Russia has made an empty gesture, nothing more. And China’s staying mum. For good reason, too — that oil China buys from Iran gets sold right back to Tehran as gasoline. Nifty.
And I fail to see how American disarmament is any kind of carrot. America’s conventional airpower alone could send Iran back into the Stone Age — or “make the rubble bounce,” as we used to say about nukes. Throw in a few US Army or Marine combat brigades, and it becomes obvious the US would never, ever need to risk the international catastrophe we’d cause by using nukes. All of this, Iran knows already.
So we have a combination of a limp stick and a moldy carrot. What’s that add up to?
Not much, I’m afraid.
Of course, I haven’t even mentioned that all of this daydreaming depends on Iran living up to its word. They’ve lied about their programs. They’ve lied about their intentions. They’ve lied about waging proxy and real war against this country for 30 years. But now they’ll negotiate in good faith, when they have the promise of nuclear toys to play with in just a few years?
So you’ll pardon my cynicism about The One’s apparent ability to dazzle our rivals in Tehran.