Imagine What They Think in Tehran

Op-ed-page editors have been watching the Iranian mullahs and think the Obama administration should be paying closer attention. The Washington Post, for example, observes another hostage situation — the nabbing and trial of three American hikers — and concludes:

For the Obama administration, the hikers’ treatment is but one more indication that the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has no interest in the constructive “engagement” that Mr. Obama has offered. Such despicable persecution of innocent people only adds to the reasons the administration should focus its energies on isolating and imposing sanctions on the regime’s leaders, while doing what it can to support the opposition Green movement.

The Wall Street Journal‘s editors agree and are chagrined that the Obami seem to be interested in slowing down rather than encouraging sanctions legislation in Congress:

Iran spurns every overture from the U.S. and continues to develop WMD while abusing its neighbors. In response, the Administration, which had set a December deadline for diplomacy, now says it opposes precisely the kind of sanctions it once promised to impose if Iran didn’t come clean, never mind overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. For an explanation of why Iran’s behavior remains unchanged, look no further.

Now if American editorial writers are unconvinced the Obami have signaled sufficient toughness, imagine what the Iranians must believe. They’ve seen us lift not a finger for the Green protesters, and in fact, we cut their funding. They saw us happily downplay the existence of the Qom facility and dither away a year. They’ve watched and have every reason to be encouraged. So convincing them now that we really, really mean business (or they might get a letter too!) is going to be an uphill climb.

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Imagine What They Think in Tehran

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