Rope-a-Dope

On Friday, this report suggested that the U.S. was about to get serious with Iran:

U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), speaking Thursday in Washington at the National Jewish Leadership Advocacy Day on Iran, told more than 300 Jewish leaders that he will mark up the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in October and “begin the process of tightening the screws on Tehran” if Iran “does not reverse course.”

By the end of the day, the administration had announced that September was, well, not really a deadline and that we would be entering into talks despite Iran’s not having agreed to discuss its nuclear program. In fact, Iran had already said the opposite. But we’ll be talking anyway.

One wonders what Rep. Berman thinks now. The administration has made itself, and those who were banking on some onset of diplomatic sobriety, look foolish. Those in Congress who were moving forward with an array of sanctions to enhance Obama’s bargaining position have been undercut by an administration that apparently doesn’t want its bargaining position enhanced.

The administration has prostrated itself before the Iranian regime and afforded it still more time to continue with its nuclear-weapons program. It has signaled that it has neither the will nor the interest to set deadlines or enforce them, and that it has failed to lay the groundwork for sanctions. If this isn’t “rope-a-dope” negotiations, I don’t know what Berman could possibly have had in mind. And in this case, the administration has willingly supplied the rope.