Bob Kagan asks a salient question: What will the Obama administration do when it’s clear (well, clearer than it has been) that we’re being played by the Iranian regime? He explains:
So now the test results are in: Iran’s intentions, it seems, are not good. Tehran apparently will not accept the deal but will propose an alternate plan, agreeing to ship smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium to Russia gradually over a year. Even if Iran carried out this plan as promised — every month would be an adventure to see how much, if anything, Iran shipped — the slow movement of small amounts of low-enriched uranium does not accomplish the original purpose, since Iran can quickly replace these amounts with new low-enriched uranium produced by its centrifuges. Iran’s nuclear clock, which the Obama administration hoped to stop or at least slow, would continue ticking at close to its regular speed.
Kagan implores the Obama team to show some spine and move ahead with sanctions to show we mean business. And really, if we didn’t get snookered by the Russians, they, in exchange for our selling out the Poles and Czechs on missile defense, “should come through by joining in sanctions.” Right? But like Kagan, I find it hard to believe that any objective evidence of “failure” will be taken to heart. We’ll simply double down, extend the deadlines, and continue the “hard work of negotiating.”
We’ve already refused repeatedly to take no for an answer on a series of deadlines, and have already absolved Iran for maintaining the secret Qom site. So why should we suddenly show some fortitude? We’ve already beckoned the mullahs back into respectable international company. We’re going to be the skunk at our own garden party?
The Obama team’s devotion to engagement has become a religious-like devotion. Contrary facts are reinterpreted to maintain the core ideology. We must simply be faithful and patient. As Kagan notes, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that “engagement is an end in itself, not a means to an end.” If engagement ever stopped, we would have to do something. And if the vision of a grand multilateral international community doesn’t quite match reality we might — oh my! — have to act on our own. The imposition of American military power we’ve already been warned isn’t going to “permanently” solve anything. (Not like shipping part of Iran’s uranium to Russia to be replaced in a year, huh?)
Much damage has already been done by the faux negotiating. The Iranian regime has solidified its position and taken on an air of legitimacy. News of its suppression of dissent and brutality is out of the headlines. We’ve been enablers in the snuffing out of Iranian democratic protests. (Defunding them certainly went a long way in that direction.)
So will Obama show us he is the savvy negotiator and tough guy his ardent fans think he is? C’mon, it’s not like we’re talking about Fox News or the Chamber of Commerce.