Obama’s foreign policy was a disaster from Day On
Iranian President Rouhani Says Thanks, But No Thanks To Obama
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Washington – It wasn’t amateur night in the White House on Tuesday. It was dreamer day at the United Nations for President Barack Obama.
Harsh words? Yes, indeed. But if they are unfair then what is on point for his sense of reality and his supporting cast who couldn’t organize a booze-up in a brewery?
Witness the “encounter” Obama was to have Tuesday with Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran.
Here’s the recent scene: POTUS – president of the United States—decided the time was ripe and the occasion perfect to nod, maybe shake hands, break a pretzel with the newly-elected head of Iran’s government.
Both would be addressing the United Nations General Assembly and Obama’s White House beavers organized the “encounter” in the halls of the United Nations building.
Engineered encounters are an old diplomatic tool for advanced probes for face-to-face contacts of representatives or even national leaders of countries long-mired in conflicts.
Everybody knows the rules of the game. Professional diplomats do their work out of sight and sound. They choreograph the event to look casual while the main actors take each other’s measure and test for possible openings to a deal.
Obama’s amateurs would have it different: They’d first hint and later confirm the encounter a day in advance.
Now look where it got them. There stood Obama, ready and willing and yon was Rouhani unwilling or unable to oblige and choosing to say thank you but no, thank you.
Did Rouhani pull back because Obama expected more than the Iranian intended to give or was he putting Obama on sharp notice that Iran is no pushover.
If that was his intended reason, then Rouhani humiliated Obama. But surely, it couldn’t be or Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with his Iranian counterpart set for today, Thursday, would be off with a bang if Kerry gave the word—or a muted noise if it came from the White House.
Or was it that Rouhani wanted to snuff out reported opposition of Tehran hardliners to his chumming with the Great Satan.
Whatever was the reason, Obama should have known in good time; which leads back to the booze-up –in-the-brewery bunglers
Is it surprising? No, Obama’s foreign policy was a disaster from Day One when he set course on good intentions. He reached out generously to all Islamic countries. That would have looked promising were it not for a fatal flaw: He overlooked their individualities.
Considering the obvious fact that Arabs and followers of the Prophet are no more the same than are white Christians whatever their nationalities. But there is more to astonish.
Obama took office determined to stand America’s relations with Russia upside down and put his belief in immediate practice. According to his lights and logic, the United States and Russia had shared interests and would always put them first. No doubt such thoughts are pleasing but that doesn’t transform them into a foundation rock for policy.
Nevertheless Obama famously “reset the button” on United States-Russia relations after only 45 days in the Oval Office.
The ceremonial “rest” took place in Geneva on March 6, 2009 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov of Russia with a reset button box in a flood of the world’s TV camera lights.
Mine is not a silly argument for frozen policies with Russia or, for that matter, with tiny Monaco sitting on its three quarters of a square mile sovereign territory.
What I do argue, though, is that the newly-minted president could not possibly have known what he needed to know before making momentous decisions.
A very well informed policy insider in Washington tipped me midway between his election in November 2008 and inauguration on January 20, 2009. Obama, he said, would “surprise” with an “imaginative foreign policy.”
My informant kept a poker face and offered not even a for-example. But we both knew that ‘imaginative’ is not the word associated with policy unless it is preceded by words like informed, considered and current, to mention just three crucial qualifiers.
Where is the president now in his eagerness for an opening to Iran? This may sound super-suspicious though it merely shows that hope is no foundation for policy.
In Iran’s case as a whole, and Rouhani specifically it is pertinent to look at his role and place over the last four decades. He was there, at the creation of the Islamic Republic well before it was proclaimed in Tehran April 1, 1979.
He was with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in their Paris exile where the overthrow of the Shah and the Islamic revolution was planned. They succeeded by inflaming Iranians with Khomeini’s powerful taped sermons that could be copied with ease and spread throughout the country and the rest is history.
Thirty four years later Rouhani is no more the same man than anybody else his age. Like Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union and countless politicians the world over, the old revolutionary is now the new president.
What’s more important, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, too must be harboring his own modified perception of reality.
But one goal – incidentally, set by the Shah, remains unchanged: Iran’s drive for nuclear power status. This is an opinion stated as a certainty but I too don’t believe in a Tehran miracle.
Nuclear Iran is the substance, the core threat, primarily to Israel, next to Saudi Arabia and only then to the United States and down the line.
For Israel nuclear Iran threatens annihilation; for the Royal House in Saudi Arabia it poses this alternative: Out-nuke Iran or vanish. For the United States it means total loss of credibility – and its consequences around the world.
Permit an aside and self-reference. I wrote in previous columns that Obama has already blown the credibility asset.
Presidents since Ronald Reagan have declared solemnly that an Iranian bomb will not be permitted, if necessary by military means.
Speaking at the UN only hour after Obama, Rouhani said ‘we don’t want the bomb, we are enriching uranium for the day when Iran needs to fuel nuclear reactors driving electrical power generators’.
Sure, he believes that as much as do Jerusalem, Washington, Riyadh –and Monaco, for all I know.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have been negotiating with Iran for the last 10 years to police its nuclear program. They got nowhere to this day.
Rouhani directed Iran’s nuclear program. He was the hide and stall man with a smile, superb manners and sharp diplomatic skill.
Rouhani is president now by grace of the Supreme Leader’s electoral maneuver and the hopes of Iranians for more freedom and less pain from international sanctions.
Obama has nailed his policy to hope, expectation and trust in renewed negotiations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities if America doesn’t block Iran’s N-bomb for good
Rouhani is on a charm offensive in the United States and Europe never even contemplated by the stern Islamic Republic before. But because he admits no conflict between his smiles and the conflagration his nukes could ignite makes the show eerily unreal.
Speaking at the UN only hours after Obama he said Iran will “insist” on its “rights” to enrich uranium granted by international law.
The publicly unspoken question in Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh is whether Obama is the man of the hour or a play on an old film classic titled “Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf.”