Obama shirks while Israel prepares
By: Peter Lemiska
Most analysts agree that Iran has been feverishly working to develop a nuclear weapon, and that a nuclear-armed Iran would present a grave threat, not only to America’s allies, but to the entire world. But this crisis didn’t appear overnight. It was a major topic of discussion during the presidential campaign four years ago. As a candidate, Barack Obama’s official position was clear. Yes, he would prefer to talk to Iran, but ultimately he saw a nuclear-armed Iran as “a major threat to us and to the region,” a scenario he described as “unacceptable.” He warned that “we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran,” and promised that, if necessary, he would not hesitate to use military force to protect both the homeland and United States’ interests. It was a vow that he repeated throughout his campaign and continues to use whenever the need arises.
It’s no secret that candidates for public office sometimes make promises they can’t keep. Perhaps the most valuable asset of a good politician is the ability to explain away all those campaign promises after he’s in office. So was Obama’s vow to stop Iran’s nuclear program a firm commitment by a determined leader, or just another empty promise by a good politician?
It’s clear that the administration prefers to avoid conflict with Iran, and has chosen to rely on economic sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It seemed like a reasonable approach early on, in light of our thinly spread forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the growing anti-war sentiment in the country. But sanctions have proven to be completely ineffective, as Iran continues its relentless quest for a nuclear weapon.
In 2005, President Bush issued an Executive Order freezing the assets of individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program. Between 2006 and 2010, there have been six U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran. In 2010, Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. Also in that year, Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13553. Then in 2011, he signed EO 13574, and EO 13590, all targeting Iran’s economic interests. The European Union, and many countries outside the EU have likewise imposed economic sanctions against this rogue regime, all to no avail. Iran has responded alternately with defiance, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, and false offers to negotiate, which only served to hold the world community at bay.
By now, all of Washington knows that Iran is determined to acquire a nuclear weapon, and there should be no doubt that sanctions will not prevent that from happening.
But Obama is clearly more concerned about his own re-election than a nuclear-armed Iran. While he continues to bluster, he knows that if we become embroiled in another Mid-East conflict, it would badly hurt his bid for re-election. He is counting on two things. First, is the apathy of the American people. He knows that most voters are more concerned about our domestic economy than Middle East affairs. Secondly, Obama desperately hopes that Israel, America’s closest ally in the region, takes no action against Iran before the November elections, a move that would knock him off the fence he is so fond of straddling.
Some have naively suggested that, in the end, another nuclear power in the world would be of little significance. They overlook the fact that Ahmadinejad is a bellicose and irrational dictator and a genuine threat to America’s allies. They have forgotten about his bitter hatred of America and Israel, the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis, Iran’s support of international terrorism, and all those American soldiers killed by Iranian IEDs. And, it seems, they’ve forgotten Obama’s own words.
Experts agree that any conflict with Iran would be costly. Skyrocketing oil prices would undoubtedly lead to economic chaos. And there would likely be an increase in world-wide terrorism, including attacks against U.S. interests. There’s even a good chance that sleeper cells within this country would be activated. But under Ahmadinejad, a conflict seems inevitable. If we wait until he acquires a nuclear weapon, the costs will be infinitely higher.
Whether it’s the Keystone Pipeline, the Afghanistan troop surge, or the Iranian nuclear issue, Obama’s hallmark style hasn’t changed since his tenure in the Illinois State Senate, when all those “present” votes exposed a clear aversion to responsibility and commitment. And though he carefully avoids the difficult decisions that come with leadership, he clearly perceives himself as a great leader. He has forgotten, or has never learned, that strong leaders are defined by such qualities as decisiveness, commitment, and loyalty. So as Obama continues to strut the world stage like a preening peacock, Israel, Iran, and the world are beginning to see behind the facade. With his head buried deeply in the sand, he evokes a sadder image of a somewhat larger, clumsier bird.
Israel has been patient, but cannot allow Obama’s empty promises and political calculations to interfere with the defense of its people. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton have predicted that Israel would face an “existential” threat from a nuclear-armed Iran. Some appeasers dismiss the prediction as hyperbole. But whether the threat would be existential or only catastrophic, as a matter of self-defense, Israel has no choice but to take the action that Obama shuns.
The writer is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and holds a BA degree in psychology. His commentaries appear on various websites, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.