Commentary Magazine


Beyond Farce

Thank goodness we have a president who is willing to “listen” to foreign governments, to “create space” for conflict resolution, to break America’s habit of “dictating” to those with whom it disagrees, to invite international institutions to “share” in the process of mitigating the world’s dangers. Without persistent Dr. Phil-diplomacy, we never could have achieved this:

United Nations and Iranian officials have been secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear programme in return for co-operation with UN inspectors.

According to a draft document seen by The Times, the 13-point agreement was drawn up in September by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in an effort to break the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear programme before he stands down at the end of this month.

Forget the cooperation of Russia; forget the cooperation of Iran. The most benign and internationally beloved president in modern history can’t keep the intermediary bodies from secretly plotting against us. It’s useful to keep today’s revelation in mind when people go on about how George W. Bush spurned international bodies or about how the U.S. can’t be the world’s police. Perhaps Obama will get tough on the IAEA and register one of his bone-chilling warnings about his patience not being endless.

There are a slew of synonyms for the kind of popularity Obama has conferred upon America: adoration, affection, favor, and so on. But there is no usable replacement for respect. Respect comes when you draw a line. For this administration, there is no line. The uncooperativeness (forget evil) of bad actors never gets fully recognized. Because there is no line, the administration’s claims of progress are unfalsifiable. That is, they can never be disproved. Everything is endlessly encouraging.

Hey, you can’t blame ElBaradei for wanting to secure his legacy. You know what they say: You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many Nobel Peace Prizes.

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