Re: Obama’s Sweet Middle Eastern Nothings

Eric, the most appalling part of the interview came at the end:

Q: Can I end with a question on Iran and Iraq then quickly?

What was his answer on Iran? As best I can make it out: Maybe, or I’m not saying. Or I haven’t figured it out. What it wasn’t was a concise and definitive statement that it would be unacceptable for Iran to develop its nuclear capability. I’m sure the mullahs in Iran are delighted that they can now string along the negotiators — as they have done for years — and go merrily along their way in developing their nuclear program. The message to Israel: don’t expect much from the U.S. on this front.

And the Iraq answer was, well, the equivalent of “Let him eat his waffle.”

All of this suggests there is no one in the administration empowered to tell the President just how counterproductive this sort of meandering, touchy-feely routine is to establishing his bona fides on the world stage. After hearing this, is Iran more or less likely to be deterred from pursuing its nuclear program? Certainly he’s not suggesting there is a line in the sand — or any penalty to be paid when Iran ignores the entreaties of his envoys to halt its nuclear program. As Michael Goldfarb explains:

Wouldn’t a simple ‘no, a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States and our allies’ have sufficed? Instead Obama says that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is “unhelpful,” that it’s “not conducive to peace.” When Obama was in Israel, he said that “a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” He added that he would “take no options off the table in dealing with this potential Iranian threat.” In the first debate of the general election, Obama reiterated that the United States “cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.” But when Obama has the chance to speak directly to the Muslim world, he can only muster retread rhetoric from his inaugural address about clenched fists and open hands.

If the President is going to be taken seriously, he’ll have to do better than this. Or at the very least, keep his encounter-group chit-chat to himself.