Commentary Magazine


Topic: Kurt Volker

Sarkozy Has Figured It Out Too

As this report explains, “The American and French presidents called for quick action on sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, with U.S. President Barack Obama saying he believed such penalties could be approved by the United Nations in a matter of weeks.” But French President Nicolas Sarkozy can barely conceal his unease with Obama’s lackadaisical attitude toward the mullahs:

Mr. Sarkozy has been one of the strongest advocates for sanctions against Iran among the Western allies. “The time has come to take decisions,” he said at the news conference. “Iran cannot continue its mad race.”

Despite the public harmony, U.S. analysts who have discussed the issue with French leaders said Paris has grown concerned that Mr. Obama may be repeating the path of the Bush administration, which failed to halt Iran’s nuclear program through U.N. sanctions.

“There’s worry on Iran,” said Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO during both the Bush and Obama administrations. “The French… want to play hardball and they want to push, and I think they worry a little bit about where is the administration’s bottom line. Yes, we’re pushing sanctions, but what then?”

And then Obama’ s hamhanded diplomacy hasn’t helped matters any. (“The meeting between the two presidents comes at a tense time in bilateral relations. Mr. Sarkozy appeared publicly supportive of Mr. Obama’s candidacy during the 2008 presidential campaign. But relations have cooled as a result of perceived diplomatic snubs — the Obamas didn’t have dinner with the Sarkozys during their June visit to Paris, for example — and policy differences.”) So much for enhancing our relationship with allies.

Others are similarly perturbed that Obama’s sanctions approach is too little and too late. Danielle Pletka explains that in Obama’s obsession with engaging the Iranian regime:

He was unwilling to take no for an answer. How else to explain Mr. Obama’s lack of interest in the Iranian people’s democratic protests against the regime. Or his seeming indifference to Tehran’s failure to meet repeated international deadlines to respond to an offer endorsed by all five permanent U.N. Security Council members (and Germany) to allow Iran to enrich uranium in Russia, receiving back enriched fuel rods that do not lend themselves to weapons production. One might have hoped the administration was using that time to build international consensus for a plan B. But apparently that’s not the case.

So Obama goes through the motions, but with little indication that China or Russia will be joining in a unified sanctions effort or that the sanctions will be commensurate with the goal — persuading the mullahs to give up their nuclear ambitions. We are engaged now in a massive charade — Obama pretends to be serious about preventing a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state, our allies nervously eye one another, and the mullahs proceed with nary a care that they might face their own existential threat (give up the nukes or perish). But the kabuki dance must end soon.

After bludgeoning Israel over Jerusalem and making clear to all onlookers that there is nothing currently “rock solid” about the U.S. relationship with Israel, Obama nevertheless expects the Jewish state to continue to play along with the engagement/sanctions pantomime. However, if the Israeli government has learned anything over the last week, it is to appreciate just how deeply disingenuous is the Obama administration, and how little the Jewish state can rely on the Obami for its security. The Obama administration is dedicated to reorienting America away from its alliance with Israel and elevating (it imagines) its status in the Muslim World and within international organizations, which have little interest in doing whatever is necessary to enforce existing sanctions, let alone enacting new ones to prevent the mullahs’ acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Certainly, Netanyahu shares Sarkozy’s skepticism. Now he must consider just how much longer to indulge the Obami’s creep toward containment. And for those here in the U.S. who correctly perceive that the unacceptable is on the verge of happening, the question remains: what, if anything, can be done to shake the administration from its slumber?

As this report explains, “The American and French presidents called for quick action on sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, with U.S. President Barack Obama saying he believed such penalties could be approved by the United Nations in a matter of weeks.” But French President Nicolas Sarkozy can barely conceal his unease with Obama’s lackadaisical attitude toward the mullahs:

Mr. Sarkozy has been one of the strongest advocates for sanctions against Iran among the Western allies. “The time has come to take decisions,” he said at the news conference. “Iran cannot continue its mad race.”

Despite the public harmony, U.S. analysts who have discussed the issue with French leaders said Paris has grown concerned that Mr. Obama may be repeating the path of the Bush administration, which failed to halt Iran’s nuclear program through U.N. sanctions.

“There’s worry on Iran,” said Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO during both the Bush and Obama administrations. “The French… want to play hardball and they want to push, and I think they worry a little bit about where is the administration’s bottom line. Yes, we’re pushing sanctions, but what then?”

And then Obama’ s hamhanded diplomacy hasn’t helped matters any. (“The meeting between the two presidents comes at a tense time in bilateral relations. Mr. Sarkozy appeared publicly supportive of Mr. Obama’s candidacy during the 2008 presidential campaign. But relations have cooled as a result of perceived diplomatic snubs — the Obamas didn’t have dinner with the Sarkozys during their June visit to Paris, for example — and policy differences.”) So much for enhancing our relationship with allies.

Others are similarly perturbed that Obama’s sanctions approach is too little and too late. Danielle Pletka explains that in Obama’s obsession with engaging the Iranian regime:

He was unwilling to take no for an answer. How else to explain Mr. Obama’s lack of interest in the Iranian people’s democratic protests against the regime. Or his seeming indifference to Tehran’s failure to meet repeated international deadlines to respond to an offer endorsed by all five permanent U.N. Security Council members (and Germany) to allow Iran to enrich uranium in Russia, receiving back enriched fuel rods that do not lend themselves to weapons production. One might have hoped the administration was using that time to build international consensus for a plan B. But apparently that’s not the case.

So Obama goes through the motions, but with little indication that China or Russia will be joining in a unified sanctions effort or that the sanctions will be commensurate with the goal — persuading the mullahs to give up their nuclear ambitions. We are engaged now in a massive charade — Obama pretends to be serious about preventing a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state, our allies nervously eye one another, and the mullahs proceed with nary a care that they might face their own existential threat (give up the nukes or perish). But the kabuki dance must end soon.

After bludgeoning Israel over Jerusalem and making clear to all onlookers that there is nothing currently “rock solid” about the U.S. relationship with Israel, Obama nevertheless expects the Jewish state to continue to play along with the engagement/sanctions pantomime. However, if the Israeli government has learned anything over the last week, it is to appreciate just how deeply disingenuous is the Obama administration, and how little the Jewish state can rely on the Obami for its security. The Obama administration is dedicated to reorienting America away from its alliance with Israel and elevating (it imagines) its status in the Muslim World and within international organizations, which have little interest in doing whatever is necessary to enforce existing sanctions, let alone enacting new ones to prevent the mullahs’ acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Certainly, Netanyahu shares Sarkozy’s skepticism. Now he must consider just how much longer to indulge the Obami’s creep toward containment. And for those here in the U.S. who correctly perceive that the unacceptable is on the verge of happening, the question remains: what, if anything, can be done to shake the administration from its slumber?

Read Less