White House officials held a day-long meeting yesterday with the National Iranian American Council, a group that advocates for policies supported by the Iranian regime, including opposition to sanctions and acceptance of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Officials in attendance included Valerie Jarrett and Treasury Department Secretary for Financial Institutions Cyrus Amir-Mokri, according to a posting on NIAC’s website:
In a demonstration of the Obama administration’s eagerness to build and sustain relations with the Iranian-American community, top officials yesterday hosted the first ever Iranian-American Community Leader’s Roundtable at the White House.
The day-long roundtable was attended by National Iranian American Council staff, as well as individual community leaders and representatives of national organizations, including Iranian Alliances Across Borders and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans. …
The officials on hand were eager to listen to the interests and concerns of the Iranian-American community and to determine ways to better serve and inform the Iranian-American community about important policies and programs. All of the officials made clear that there would be a sustained effort to engage with Iranian Americans going forward. “This is not good-bye,” many of the officials repeated, “this is hello.”
The fact that this meeting took place the day after five Israeli tourists were killed in what is believed to be an Iranian suicide attack in Bulgaria is a slap in the face to the pro-Israel community.
In the last year, President Obama loudly denounced Syria dictator Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses and confidently predicted the regime’s fall. But as in virtually every other difficult foreign policy question, the president has preferred to “lead from behind,” which in this case means doing absolutely nothing while Assad slaughters thousands. The most recent Syrian atrocity has brought this shameful inaction back into the spotlight, but as Mitt Romney’s justified criticism of Obama on the issue yesterday makes clear, both the president and his challenger need to come up with more coherent positions.
The administration has tried to have it both ways on Syria ever since the protests there began more than a year ago. On the one hand, Obama wants to pose as the scourge of tyrants and a supporter of human rights, so he has claimed it was only a matter of time before Assad was driven out. But he has done nothing to match those words, and the result is that the atrocities continue with no end in sight. Romney rightly criticized this inaction yesterday as an example of the president’s feckless and cowardly foreign policy. But though this critique is warranted, Romney’s own prescription for U.S. action on Syria isn’t a heckuva lot better. As the New York Times reports:
He called for the United States to “work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves” — a policy that goes somewhat further than Mr. Obama’s but falls short of the airstrikes advocated by Republicans like Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The problem here is that despite the blithe assumptions commonly heard in the West about Assad’s inevitable doom, there is no reason to believe that he cannot sustain himself in power so long as the security services remain loyal to him.