Today's Reading Assignment
Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal, describes how President Obama is actually pushing Israel toward war with Iran. As he writes:
Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along?
At July's G-8 summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No.
Instead, what Tehran offered was a five-page document that was the diplomatic equivalent of a giant kiss-off. It begins by lamenting the "ungodly ways of thinking prevailing in global relations" and proceeds to offer comprehensive talks on a variety of subjects: democracy, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, "respect for the rights of nations," and other areas where Iran is a paragon. Conspicuously absent from the document is any mention of Iran's nuclear program, now at the so-called breakout point, which both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss Ali Khamenei insist is not up for discussion.
What's an American president to do in the face of this nonstarter of a document? What else, but pretend it isn't a nonstarter. Talks begin Oct. 1.
In sum, the conclusion among Israelis is that the Obama administration won't lift a finger to stop Iran, much less will the "international community." So Israel has pursued a different strategy, in effect seeking to goad the U.S. into stopping, or at least delaying, an Israeli attack by imposing stiff sanctions and perhaps even launching military strikes of its own.
But, as Mr. Stephens notes, the administration isn't taking the bait. He wonders if Mr. Obama believes that (a) diplomacy will actually work; (b) the U.S. has the luxury of time; (c) he can talk the Israelis out of attacking Iran; (d) Washington actually wants Tel Aviv to do the dirty work, or (e) he isn't paying attention.
Our guess would be a combination of A and E. Mr. Obama has long believed in the primacy of diplomatic talks, even with adversaries (read: North Korea) who have a history of breaking every agreement they sign. We also believe that the issue has slipped off the President's radar, despite Iran's steady advance towards nuclear weaponry. This afternoon, for example, the White House announced that the commander-in-chief will appear on David Letterman later this week and on five Sunday talk show this weekend. We're guessing that Iran won't be a primary topic of discussion--if it's mentioned at all.
At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, we should note that Mr. Stephens's column dovetails nicely with our previous post, which predicted a foreign policy reckoning for President Obama in the coming months. Judging by events in Iran, that reckoning may be closer than we might imagine.
Labels: Iran; Barack Obama; Israel