Administration Policy On Iran Is An Unmitigated Disaster

by Martin Peretz | March 28, 2010

And it has been that since the beginning of the Obama presidency. Obama had started out with the quaintest belief that soft diplomacy would work with a rough tyranny that had even rougher ambitions in its dealings with other countries. This was obvious to everyone except the president himself. And, of course, his satraps like Hillary Clinton whose rhetoric can never be trusted either as an intellectual proposition or an index of her sincerity.

Only last week madame secretary told AIPAC that we were pursuing "sanctions with bite" (about which talk I blogged twice) but that it was taking time to convince our United Nations "partners" to join us. We were still trying, however. Please!

On the very day I posted the last of these Spines, the Wall Street Journal came out with a detailed dispatch from Vienna, "U.S. Softens Sanction Plan Against Iran," showing that we had already given up the fight.

The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win the support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies (is this meant to include Russia and China?) last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran's access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran's national air cargo and shipping lines ...

What's left in the proposal is a melange of punishments so complex that they would be easy to deter. Only self-deceivers could actually believe that these remaining penalties could actually punish and punish preventively.

That Dr. A'jad has been playing us for fools is beyond doubt. And why shouldn't he have? We were fools and, being fools, our enemies calibrate us as such. Iran itself has announced steps that it has taken to improve its nuclear capacities.   

Then, on Sunday, March 28, there was another dense report, this time in the New York Times, showing that "Agencies Suspect Iran Is Planning New Atomic Sites," as a previous story in the Times had proven. The newly reported atomic sites "would defy U.N. wishes." Big surprise.

Actually the news was deliberately leaked by Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, when he told Iranian Student News Agency that the president of the country "had ordered work to begin on two new plants" that "will be build inside mountains." Is this meant as a challenge to the U.S. or as a dare to Israel?

The aforesaid "previous story" about the hidden site at Qom was actually revealed by Obama in September in the hope that the news would evoke international support four more stringent sanctions. It didn't. Russia and China knew already that the president would pull back as, of course, he has.

Those of you who get hysterical about Israel allowing building on a property owned by Jews for decades (and leading to the enormous Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, to a division of the Haddassah Hospital serving primarily Arabs, to the Mount of Olives which is the most sacrosanct Jewish cemetery in the country from which, if you're buried there, you will rise from your grave at the first sighting of the Messiah's coming from the east, and to the grounds of Brigham Young University whose Mormon students are not much liked by their Palestinian neighbors) but are cool as a cuke about Iran's nuclear possessions, well, you are really weird.    

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