During his news conference today, the President managed to make this spineless comment in response to a question, as if he’d just read Roger L. Simon’s blog, “Obama to Iran: Enjoy Your Nukes!” — and missed the point:
No options off the table means I’m considering all options….Now, Iran understands that they have a choice: They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and foreswearing the development of nuclear weapons, which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power, like every other country that’s a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world. And if they are pursuing nuclear weapons, then I have said very clearly, that is contrary to the national security interests of the United States; it’s contrary to the national security interests of our allies, including Israel; and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.
Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at The Council on Foreign Relations, and former deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs in the George W. Bush administration, has posted a trenchant blog on the president’s insipid remarks, in which he writes,
What’s wrong with that statement? American promises to keep “all options on the table” have no credibility in the Middle East… The phrase has come to mean “I am really mad about this” and nothing more.
Mr. Obama might have said very clearly “I will not permit Iran to get a nuclear weapon.” Instead what he said, as noted, was “we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.” The Iranian regime knows as well as we do that there is no “world community” and knows as well as we do that the real question is the president’s willingness to use force, as a very last resort, to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. If he seeks the approval of the “world community” to do so, he won’t get it–something else the ayatollahs know. So the actual impact of his statement is to weaken our position, not strengthen it, just as Secretary of Defense Panetta weakened it last week when he groaned at the Brookings Institution about the horrible things that might happen if there were a strike on Iran.
This is a President who is ignorant of international relations and the imperative to express firm resolve and not wussy “I’m open to everything all the time.” That doesn’t work in dealing with avowed enemies of the United States of America. It never has, and never will. Since his feckless, albeit successful, campaign for the office he now, alas, holds, Barack Obama has offered to “sit down” with the “president” of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has promised to wipe the state of Israel off the map with the nuclear bombs he is building, and who denies the Holocaust ever took place.
As we all know, Obama’s offer was rebuffed. His open hand was met — unsurprisingly, except to Obama and his ear-whisperer, Samantha Power — with a closed fist. Although some might ask, “What were they thinking?” I would ask, “Why weren’t they thinking?”
For Abrams’ full, and clear analysis of how dangerous a position the president and his defense secretary have staked out, read the full post.