Commentary Magazine


Topic: cut

The Worst Failure Isn’t Health Care

In the flurry over ObamaCare’s collapse, some have lost sight of a more serious and far-reaching failure by Obama. This report from Time‘s Massimo Calabresi observes that in addition to “his party’s loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, the collapse of health care reform and a disorganized war against the banks,” Obama has a really big foreign-policy problem: his Iran policy is an abject failure. Engagement was supposed to wean the mullahs off their nukes, or at least demonstrate to recalcitrant powers like Russia and China that we had exhausted all reasonable options so we could proceed with those crippling sanctions. Calabresi asks: “So, how’s that working? Not very well, by all indications.” Not well at all.

We’ve blown through deadline after deadline. No progress has been made in rounding up support, even as Iran snubbed the West and murdered its own people. The Russians and Chinese still oppose sanctions:

But where Russia had previously taken the lead in blocking sanctions efforts, that role has now fallen to China, which has a rapidly growing stake in Iran’s energy sector. … Without China, which holds a Security Council veto, there is no prospect of meaningful sanctions at the U.N. That in turn means difficulty getting tough sanctions from all the European countries, some of whom can’t act without U.N. approval.

Meanwhile, the Obami are watering down the “crippling” sanctions before we even get to the process of negotiating with “our” side and/or the UN. And then, even if we did get some consensus on mild pinpricks, we’d have to roll them out, implement them, and see if they were “working.” But frankly, we’re not likely to get an agreement on anything worth implementing, even after all that genuflecting to the Chinese. The end result:

Now Obama faces the unpleasant reality that neither the engagement track nor the sanctions track appear to be going anywhere. His defenders at home and abroad say it was the right way to proceed, but skeptics of Obama’s policy are emerging, even in his own party. “What exactly did your year of engagement get you?” asks a Hill Democrat.

Good question: what did we get? Well the mullahs got time to consolidate their grip on the throats of the Iranian people while gaining some international legitimacy. The Iranian protesters got their funding cut and saw the United States go practically mute when it might have mattered the most. The U.S. seems only to have frittered away its moral standing in the world. What we got was another year in which Iran moved closer to membership in the international nuclear-arms club.

Compared to this, health care has been a triumph. But unlike harebrained domestic schemes, getting nowhere is not good enough when dealing with a revolutionary Islamic state bent on acquiring nuclear arms. Both the United States and Israel will soon be confronted with the choice that Obama’s policy was designed to avoid: engage in military action or live with a nuclear-armed Iran. (Who among us seriously thinks Obama won’t be inclined to do the latter?) Obama’s Iran-engagement strategy, among a host of misguided efforts and half-baked ideas, is arguably the most egregious policy failure of his first year. It certainly is the most dangerous.

In the flurry over ObamaCare’s collapse, some have lost sight of a more serious and far-reaching failure by Obama. This report from Time‘s Massimo Calabresi observes that in addition to “his party’s loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, the collapse of health care reform and a disorganized war against the banks,” Obama has a really big foreign-policy problem: his Iran policy is an abject failure. Engagement was supposed to wean the mullahs off their nukes, or at least demonstrate to recalcitrant powers like Russia and China that we had exhausted all reasonable options so we could proceed with those crippling sanctions. Calabresi asks: “So, how’s that working? Not very well, by all indications.” Not well at all.

We’ve blown through deadline after deadline. No progress has been made in rounding up support, even as Iran snubbed the West and murdered its own people. The Russians and Chinese still oppose sanctions:

But where Russia had previously taken the lead in blocking sanctions efforts, that role has now fallen to China, which has a rapidly growing stake in Iran’s energy sector. … Without China, which holds a Security Council veto, there is no prospect of meaningful sanctions at the U.N. That in turn means difficulty getting tough sanctions from all the European countries, some of whom can’t act without U.N. approval.

Meanwhile, the Obami are watering down the “crippling” sanctions before we even get to the process of negotiating with “our” side and/or the UN. And then, even if we did get some consensus on mild pinpricks, we’d have to roll them out, implement them, and see if they were “working.” But frankly, we’re not likely to get an agreement on anything worth implementing, even after all that genuflecting to the Chinese. The end result:

Now Obama faces the unpleasant reality that neither the engagement track nor the sanctions track appear to be going anywhere. His defenders at home and abroad say it was the right way to proceed, but skeptics of Obama’s policy are emerging, even in his own party. “What exactly did your year of engagement get you?” asks a Hill Democrat.

Good question: what did we get? Well the mullahs got time to consolidate their grip on the throats of the Iranian people while gaining some international legitimacy. The Iranian protesters got their funding cut and saw the United States go practically mute when it might have mattered the most. The U.S. seems only to have frittered away its moral standing in the world. What we got was another year in which Iran moved closer to membership in the international nuclear-arms club.

Compared to this, health care has been a triumph. But unlike harebrained domestic schemes, getting nowhere is not good enough when dealing with a revolutionary Islamic state bent on acquiring nuclear arms. Both the United States and Israel will soon be confronted with the choice that Obama’s policy was designed to avoid: engage in military action or live with a nuclear-armed Iran. (Who among us seriously thinks Obama won’t be inclined to do the latter?) Obama’s Iran-engagement strategy, among a host of misguided efforts and half-baked ideas, is arguably the most egregious policy failure of his first year. It certainly is the most dangerous.

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