It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer range of people who publicly lost patience with Barack Obama’s Iran policy this week.
Most noteworthy, of course, was the Iranian opposition, whose activists chanted, as Jennifer noted, “Obama: either with the murderers or with us” during a demonstration in Tehran on Wednesday. By siding with a brutal regime against its most serious democratic challengers in 30 years, Obama is not only betraying American ideals and squandering America’s best shot at effecting real change in Iran since 1979; he is also destroying a priceless asset. Currently, Iran is the only Mideast Muslim country whose public is generally pro-American rather than rabidly anti-American. That is unlikely to last long if America is seen siding with the regime against the people.
That same day, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told journalists in Paris that the Security Council will not even discuss new sanctions against Iran before the end of the year, at Washington’s request. He then proceeded to bluntly dissociate himself from that policy: “Our American friends ask us to wait until the end of the year,” he said. “It’s not us.”
Then, lest his listeners miss the point, he reiterated it: the Obama administration wants to wait and see whether Iran will respond to its offer of negotiations, he explained, so “we’re waiting for talks. But where are the talks?”
That’s truly impressive. Anyone remember the last time a veteran French leftist thought America was carrying appeasement too far?
The Democratic-controlled Congress sent the same message in subtler fashion on Tuesday, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed a joint session. “She drew her most resounding applause,” the New York Times reported, when she declared that “zero tolerance needs to be shown when there is a risk of weapons of mass destruction falling, for example, into the hands of Iran. … A nuclear bomb in the hands of an Iranian president who denies the Holocaust, threatens Israel and denies Israel the right to exist is not acceptable.”
It’s not that Merkel didn’t mention other issues dear to Obama’s heart, like climate change and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s just that Congress, unlike the administration, has its priorities straight. Last week, National Security Adviser James Jones told the J Street conference that if the administration could solve only one international problem, it would be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Congress understands that stopping thugs from getting the bomb is more important.
Finally, the Guardian reported this morning that previously unpublished International Atomic Energy Agency documents reveal that Iran may have tested components of a “two-point implosion” device, a highly sophisticated (and highly classified) technology that enables the production of smaller nuclear warheads, thus making it easier to mount one on a missile. This development, which “was described by nuclear experts as ‘breathtaking’ … has added urgency to the effort” to find a solution to the crisis, it said. So even an ultra-Left British newspaper has noticed that time is running out. Isn’t it time Obama did the same?