David Ignatius wants to know why Obama’s response to the disclosure of the secret Iranian facility is so, well, wimpy. He asks, “So why didn’t the Obama administration lay down an even stronger marker in response to this breakout–by threatening, say, to intercept ships at sea that it believed were carrying parts for the Iranian nuclear program?” The best he can come up with is that the president is trying to maintain “consensus” among other nations who don’t want to do much of anything.
Wait a minute. Obama concealed whatever information he had about this facility–information that could have been used to move domestic and international opinion. He could have gone to the UN with some visual aids–like Bibi Netanyahu did with the Holocaust documents–to make the case to the international community. At the UN he could have dispensed with the filler material on global warming and his insincere praise for open markets and used his opportunity to build consensus so he could then make the case for robust action. To now claim that Obama is a victim of international lethargy is disingenuous in the extreme. Obama has done everything possible to avoid bringing this to the point where he might have to take forceful action. Now he’s been forced there by the Iranians.
And Obama is still spouting double-talk. Sanctions? Well, he’s just exploring a wide range of options. He’s really not into “speculating,” which is what he’s been doing all along since there is no real game plan beyond talking to Iran and seeing how things go. Iranians would be making a “mistake” if they continued on this path. He declares: “I will not get into details about sanctions but if you have the international community making a united front, Iran’s going to have to pay attention.” Or else. Really.
Nowhere do you get the sense that Iran is in any peril because of its behavior in violating existing international agreements and in repeatedly acting to conceal its conduct. The message, if you can find one, is that if America reduces its rhetoric to the lowest common denominator, there will magically be consensus. But consensus is not the goal. Eliminating Iran’s nuclear threat is. Or is it? Obama never really evidences any interest in utilizing military options, if need be, to remove that threat. It has been and continues to be a pathetic display of weakness that must only embolden the Iranian mullahs.