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.”
So what is Obama to do? If he continues to negotiate, he will earn the increased scorn of allies like French President Sarkozy–call it the return of the wimp–while if he approves new sanctions, he essentially kisses goodbye to his grand vision of a happier, more peaceful world brought about by modesty and charm.
Neither is particularly attractive.
While he stews, Divine Providence has offered him a miracle: the Iranian regime is on the edge of doom. The events of the past few weeks demonstrate that the Iranian people will no longer accept repression, and the security forces are no longer able to shut down the demonstrations. On “Quds Day,” there were too many people in the streets, and the Revolutionary Guards and Basij could only stand by. This week, there have been student demonstrations on major campuses in Tehran and Shiraz, and nothing was done to shut them down. Every night, millions of Iranians shout “Death to the Dictator” from their rooftops.
If the regime falls, two of Obama’s toughest decisions–and some others as well–will magically improve. Deprived of Tehran’s finances, weapons, intelligence, training camps and safe havens, our enemies in Afghanistan will be weaker, and our chances of success improved. The leader of the opposition Green Path of Hope, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has long said that any government he heads will terminate support for terrorism and open the country’s nuclear facilities to international inspection, thereby ameliorating all three of Obama’s major headaches with Tehran. For extras, Hezbollah–the world’s most effective and murderous terrorist organization–will be gravely weakened, as will Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, which provides much of the territory from which Hezbollah operates. And the mullahs’ new friends in South America will be weakened as well, as will Russia’s ability to forge an international alliance against the United States.
A miracle indeed. And all it requires for fulfillment is an administration that does what any normal American would do in the circumstances: support the democratic opposition in Iran. It does not require any bombs or bullets, nor does it risk the body and soul of any American soldiers. It only requires Obama, Hillary, Dennis Ross, William Burns and the others to call for a free Iran, to begin any negotiation with the mullahs by reading out a long list of political prisoners and insist they be released, to cry out for equal rights for Iranian women, and to appoint a staff at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that will redouble their efforts to bring the real news about their own country to millions of Iranians.
But Obama does not seem to recognize the golden opportunity that has fallen into his lap. Mind you, the Iranian regime may very well be brought down without any external assistance, but the odds in favor of that happy event increase with American political support. And I dare say that if Obama takes the lead, at least some of our allies will come along.
He doesn’t see it, nor, apparently, do his top advisers. They want to keep marching down the long dead end every president has trod for the past thirty years.
And there are those who think that fiction is stranger than truth…