Number five. No amount of butchery by Iran’s government has had any effect on Obama’s enthusiasm for breaking bread with the regime. Widely denounced show trials for more than 100 people began August 1. Agence France-Presse reported August 1 that 2,000 people had initially been arrested and 250 remain behind bars. U.S. and U.K. papers reported on July 29 that Tehran hospitals registered 34 bodies of protesters on June 20alone, while 150 corpses have been counted in hospitals. New stories of torture surface regularly, with the New York Times reporting on July 28 that “some prisoners say they watched fellow detainees being beaten to death by guards in overcrowded, stinking holding pens.”
So while Iranians are still taking to the streets to reject the regime’s legitimacy — chanting “Neda isn’t dead, the regime is” in response to the shooting death of civilian Neda Agha-Soltan — Obama’s overtures are sending the opposite message. On June 15he said: “We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us.” On June 23he reiterated: “There is a path available to Iran in which their sovereignty is respected, their traditions, their culture, their faith is respected. . . . We don’t know how they’re going to respond yet, and that’s what we’re waiting to see.” Evidently, it never occurs to Obama that what makes his desired interlocutors criminals also decimates their capacity to conduct genuine dialogue, let alone keep any promises made.
Number six. With nothing moving “in the right direction” — no genuine dialogue, no legitimate counterpart, no hope of a tough U.N. resolution, no strong sanctions in place or in sight — Obama has attempted to take military action off the table for both Israel and the United States. On July 7, CNN asked the president if the U.S. had given Israel a green light for a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, to which he responded, “absolutely not.” Last week Obama followed up by dispatching to Jerusalem a parade of emissaries instructed to make the same point — carrying no shame about bullying a democratic ally on a matter of its life and death.
As for U.S. action, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak prompted Defense Secretary Gates on July 27 to keep “all options on the table.” Gates’s non-response to the plea said it all. On July 16 Gates, speaking in oblique terms about the military option, declared: “If something is done to prevent them [Iran] from getting one, the consequences of that are . . . very bad” — as bad or worse, he intimated, as the consequences of Iran actually getting the bomb. His reasoning was unlikely to have soothed Israelis: “Iran’s going to have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to the people in their region a lot sooner than they’re going to have the capability to deliver them to us.”
Number seven. In late July while in Thailand, Secretary Clinton spelled out a promise of a U.S. defense shield that would accompany the Iranian acquisition of a nuclear bomb. “We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment, that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region. . . . [Iran] won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.” Discussing plans for a post-Iranian nuclear world at this juncture would not occur if the administration’s policy were to prevent it from happening, period.
Number eight. The Iranians know a blowhard when they see one. As columnist Amir Taheri notes, an Iranian newspaper with close ties to the government editorialized on July 26 that Obama doesn’t have the stomach for a major confrontation with Iran: “The Obama administration is prepared to accept the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. . . . They have no long-term plan for dealing with Iran. . . . Their strategy consists of begging us to talk with them.” In other words, Iran has called Obama’s bluff.
Iran is not the only one with Obama’s number. Israel, Russia, China, France, Germany, and Great Britain all know. This president has accepted a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama can label it anything he likes: “waiting to see,” “hoping for a response,” “taking stock,” “remaining ready to engage,” standing by until the “preoccupation” with oppression ends, “pressing” others to allow “additional sanctions.” But it all amounts to the same thing.
Unless Israel exercises its right of self-defense and decides to risk the wrath of President Obama as the lesser of two evils, there will be an Iranian nuclear bomb. Courtesy of Barack Obama.
– Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College. She is also editor of www.EyeontheUN.org.