Commentary Magazine


Placing His Bets

The Washington Post reports:

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to explain the administration’s thinking, said U.S. officials want to “keep faith” with the demonstrators, letting the government know “the world is watching,” to avoid a bloody denouement. But he said the odds are slim that Khamenei will somehow lose power. “We can’t lose sight of the fact that they are enriching uranium every day,” he said. “They were a threat before the election. They are a threat today, and the clock keeps ticking.”

So much for the theory that the cagey Obama was simply finding the best way possible to help the protesters. Rather, as many of us suspected, Obama has placed his bets on the mullahs. It simply isn’t worth offending the regime. Because — yes, you’ve heard it before — nothing has changed and the Obama team, like a dog searching for an imaginary buried bone, has to go digging for the Grand Bargain.

It is not simply a failure of imagination (could we be witnessing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for regime change?) or morality (are we enabling a brutal crackdown?), but of common sense. There is no inkling that engaging the regime, should it survive, will be any more productive than things were pre-crackdown. There is no concern that either the American public or the world community will recoil as Obama continues to ingratiate himself with the regime, which, if it does survive by an exercise in extraordinary repression, will be universally loathed. Nor does the administration consider this an opportunity to finally galvanize world opinion for more stringent sanctions.

In the hermetically sealed vision of Obama and his “realists,” none of the real-world events are permitted to impact “Plan A” — which is engagement. Perhaps they can’t give up Plan A because there is no Plan B. And they haven’t the good sense to realize that Plan B may be millions of Iranians who have taken to the streets.

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