The Obama team’s lackadaisical attitude toward Iran — concealing incriminating evidence, beginning the endless round of talks about talks, and hushing any discussion about a military option — suggests they really don’t have the will to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons. But what about those sanctions? Well, as Jackson Diehl points out, there are the difficulties in getting the “spoilers” China and Russia on board, and then there is the history of sanctions to consider:
The history of sanctions in the region also is not good: More than a decade of punishment, including regular airstrikes, had no positive impact on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Iran’s current rulers, many of whom came of age in the Revolutionary Guards during the Iran-Iraq war, sound convincing when they say they are ready for the country to suffer more austerity for the cause of Iranian greatness.
Now maybe sanctions (if ever negotiated, enacted, and enforced) would have some real impact and help destabilize the Iranian regime, given the degree to which it is loathed by its own people in the wake of the June 12 stolen election and the brutal repression that followed. But Diehl is right to be skeptical. And one senses the Obama team is as well.
So that leaves endless meetings and squabbles over the details of inspections. Meanwhile, the administration bad-mouths the military option because it is not a permanent and perfect response to the despotic regime’s determination to obtain nuclear weapons (the way fruitless negotiations are?). And, of course, the administration has already made clear that regime change is not an option because . . . well, because the mullahs might get peeved and not want to attend all those meetings.
Diehl may be right that the Obama team is inching closer to accepting the “inevitability” of a nuclear-armed Iran — with the fantasy that the threat can be “contained” as it was with the Soviets. This is a dangerous delusion, one that Israel can and never will share. Assuming this really is the game plan of the Obama brain trust, we can look forward to a serious clash between Israel and the U.S.
Those who are paying attention will note that the Obama administration is helping to manufacture a sense of inevitability about Iran’s nuclear-arms acquisition — on which the administration will then rely to insist we accept Iran, finally, as a nuclear power. The stalling and deception by the Obama team — to mask the stalling and deception by the Iranian regime — has allowed valuable time to slip by (which could have been used to test whether sanctions can “work”) and has allowed the Iranian regime to solidify its position.
The Obama team and its friendly spinners never tire of telling us that military options are dangerous and complicated and offer no guarantee of success. All that is true. But to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy, the military option may prove to be the worst possible option, except for all the rest. And here history offers some evidence that military measures, however imperfect and temporary, are sometimes precisely what is needed. Uri Dromi, former spokesman for Yitzhak Rabin, reminds us of the Israeli strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981:
In 1981, when Israel attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor, it had been condemned right and left, with the United Nations ruling that Israel should pay compensation to Iraq. Ten years later, in the wake of Desert Storm, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney gave a photograph of the bombed reactor to Maj. Gen. David Ivry, who commanded the Israeli Air Force during the attack, on which he wrote, “With thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job [you] did on the Iraqi Nuclear Program in 1981 which made our job much easier in Desert Storm.”
The Obama administration’s policy — its “hollowness,” as Diehl describes it — assumes (falsely, I think) that the American public, our allies, and Israel will ultimately accept the unacceptable, a nuclear-armed Islamic revolutionary state dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. When all else fails, there may be more consensus than Obama anticipates for a military operation, however problematic that move may be. And given Obama’s shoddy leadership and dithering, he will have done his part to make the military option look not so bad after all.