Author Topic: Suppose the president never intended to roll back Iran’s nuclear program. How then would he proceed?  (Read 444 times)

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Online Bigun

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Suppose the president never intended to roll back Iran’s nuclear program. How then would he proceed?

By Michael Doran | February 6, 2014 at 5:00am

http://mosaicmagazine.com/tesserae/2014/02/i-dont-bluff/

President Obama has repeatedly promised to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. If there is no other choice, he says, he will resort to force. In a March 2012 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the president famously rejected the alternative policy, namely, allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. He emphasized the point dramatically: “[A]s president of the United States,” he said, “I don’t bluff.”

Really? Suppose this statement was just a show of toughness, timed to keep supporters of Israel on his side during the 2012 campaign season. Suppose that, when it came to Iran, in his heart of hearts, the president actually preferred a strategy of containment to a strategy of prevention. Suppose that was actually his policy aim from the outset—but, for obvious reasons, he couldn’t say so. How would he proceed?

He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding—trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.

 

To gain a sense of the president’s methods, consider first the saga of Syria’s use of chemical weapons that developed in 2013. Each time the situation called for a tough response, Obama telegraphed a punch—his famous “red line”—but then never actually delivered the blow.

The White House first realized that Bashar al-Assad had employed chemical weapons in the spring of last year. Its immediate reaction, however, was anything but a rush to enforce the president’s announced red line. On the contrary, it stalled for time. When the political pressure to respond became unbearable, the White House announced, in June, an intention to increase aid to the Syrian opposition. The president, it now seemed clear, was going to force Assad to pay a price for his barbarity. But the announcement soon revealed itself as a ploy to buy still further time, the diplomatic equivalent of “the check is in the mail.” The aid never arrived.

Then came the August 21, 2013 chemical attack that killed around 1,500 Syrian civilians. This time, the administration reacted quickly. Within days it appeared absolutely determined to punish Assad. Any doubts about its resolve were dispelled on August 30, when Secretary of State John Kerry stood before the television cameras and delivered a Churchillian speech justifying immediate missile strikes against the regime. But then, instead of ordering military action, the president decided to seek congressional authorization for the use of force, knowing full well that such a bill had little chance of passing. In short, he punted.

 

Call it the case of the vanishing reprisal. It is a pattern that reflects the president’s deep aversion toward U.S. involvement in open-ended conflict in the Middle East. His legacy, he has made abundantly clear, is to end such involvement. And just as that dictated doing nothing to stop Assad, it has dictated a posture of complacency toward Iran.

Indeed, the failure—or, better, the refusal—to stand up to Assad in Syria was also a failure to contain the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their proxy, Hizballah. After all, these two actors did the most to turn the tide of the Syrian civil war. It was their direct intervention that broke the momentum of the insurgency and rescued the Assad regime from destruction.

Here, too, the same pattern is at work. Few have noticed the degree to which, in dealing with Iran’s aggressive behavior in the Middle East, Obama has broken ranks with his predecessors in the White House. For the last 35 years, every other American president has defined countering Iran’s malign influence as a vital American interest. To be sure, Obama still pays lip service to this traditional policy. “We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hizballah, which threaten our allies,” he assured us again in this year’s State of the Union address. But the gap between word and deed has been glaring.

Recently, Obama went so far as to envision Iran as a constructive force in regional security. “f we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion,” he told David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, “you could see an equilibrium developing between . . . [Sunni] Gulf states and [Shiite] Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

In poker terms, this would be known as a “tell,” a behavioral tic that inadvertently reveals a player’s bluff. In the case of Iran, as in the case of Syria, the president is looking for an exit.

 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the nuclear negotiations with Tehran that resulted in the interim deal reached in Geneva in November. Even strong supporters of the president’s policy are now publicly expressing doubts about that deal. Thus, Fareed Zakaria, the former managing editor of Foreign Affairs and former editor of Newsweek International, came away flabbergasted from an interview that he conducted for CNN with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. So impressed was Zakaria by the yawning gulf between the American and the Iranian positions that he called the interim deal “a train wreck.”

Even more startling is the skepticism of Dennis Ross, who, until late 2011, was a senior official in the Obama White House with responsibility for the greater Middle East. A study group recently chaired by Ross assessed the interim deal as so “deeply flawed” as to “undermine the effort to prevent a nuclear Iran.”

Obama himself has let it be known that he is not optimistic about the prospects of the next round of negotiations. In his interview with Remnick, he put the chance of success “at less than even.” These are low odds. But does that mean that the president has already worked up a tough Plan B? Is he preparing a response that will leave the Iranians in no doubt that they will be worse off if they fail to satisfy the minimum requirements of the United States and its partners? Or will we witness yet another instance of the vanishing reprisal?

The questions have already answered themselves. The outline of the real Plan B is fully visible in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that emerged from Geneva. Technically, that deal lasts six months, but it can be extended indefinitely by mutual consent. While the parties to the agreement express the “aim” of reaching a comprehensive agreement within a year, they are also careful not to commit themselves in any way. The deal, in other words, is less interim than interminable.

Obama’s surrogates are already telling us to expect a very long negotiation. “I think it’s extremely unlikely that it will be possible to reach a comprehensive agreement in the next six months,” says Gary Samore. He ought to know; until last year, he served as the top arms control official in the White House. Samore thus spoke with authority when he concluded: “We’re in for a rolling series of extensions.” In short: endless process, no endpoint.

And consider where we’re already at in this process. Despite claims to the contrary, the JPOA does not “dismantle” any part of the Iranian nuclear program. It pauses some aspects, while others proceed apace. A “research” loophole allows the Iranians to continue work on advanced centrifuges. In short, Iran gets to have it both ways: to enjoy sanctions relief (the West’s part of the deal) while continuing to build up its nuclear program (Iran’s part of the deal).

Much energy on the part of the White House has been invested in painting a contrary picture. We are assured that real progress has been made; we are even told that Iran has embarked on a historic reconciliation with the West. The president, even as he admits to doubts about the prospects of success, deftly encourages exaggerated hopes for the ongoing negotiations in order to seize the moral high ground from skeptics. The White House has even taken to branding its critics as warmongers seeking to sabotage the chances for peace. “If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be upfront with the American public and say so,” warned Bernadette Meehan, a White House staffer.

Thus the interim deal allows the president, too, to have it both ways. He makes concrete concessions to Iran in the present while promising get-tough policies in the future—at, that is, some very distant point in the future, which, as it draws nearer, will assuredly vanish in turn like a mirage in the desert.

 

“As I sat there,” writes former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his new memoir, “I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander [on the ground] . . . , doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.” Gates is describing a White House discussion about Afghanistan. But it might just as well have been about Iran—or, for that matter, Syria. The president doesn’t trust those who have traditionally managed the conflict with Iran, doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the struggle to be his. He wants out.

Continuing to profess an unshakable resolve to roll back the Iranian nuclear program, the president has blunted every argument for a tougher policy and found plausible-sounding excuses to resist all calls for increased pressure on Tehran. While denying it vehemently, he has put the United States on a glide path to accepting a nuclear Iran—bluffing all the way.


Online Bigun

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I've been saying essentially the same thing for a LONG time now and am gratified to finally see it in print!

Offline Oceander

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Obama - like much of the liberal western world - is desperately hoping that Iran's nuclear program will just fade away without him having to do much of anything other than pimp around throwing off rhetorical niceties.  All Obama needs is for Iran to remain quiescent for just under three years, and then Iran and everything else becomes the fault of the next president, while Obama can loll around in presidential retirement, tut-tutting about how his successor is failing to control/contain the Iranian nuclear threat.

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Obama - like much of the liberal western world - is desperately hoping that Iran's nuclear program will just fade away without him having to do much of anything other than pimp around throwing off rhetorical niceties.  All Obama needs is for Iran to remain quiescent for just under three years, and then Iran and everything else becomes the fault of the next president, while Obama can loll around in presidential retirement, tut-tutting about how his successor is failing to control/contain the Iranian nuclear threat.

I don't believe that is the case. I believe Obama is an Iranian agent under the complete control of WH Chief of Staff Valerie Jarrett!

Offline Oceander

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I don't believe that is the case. I believe Obama is an Iranian agent under the complete control of WH Chief of Staff Valerie Jarrett!


Nah.  He's just a very strident liberal who simply cannot bring himself to deal with the harsher side of reality - just like Jimmy Carter in the late 70s.

Offline Gazoo

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Quote
He would proceed exactly as he has been proceeding—trumpeting his intention to roll back the Iranian nuclear program while actually avoiding confrontation at all costs.

Exactly. He will sit on it and do nothing.

He would be horrified of offending CAIR.

ALSO: Why has not one reporter asked Obama about his failed arab spring?
"The Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.

When does the Republican Party, put in the majority by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance"?

Online Bigun

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Nah.  He's just a very strident liberal who simply cannot bring himself to deal with the harsher side of reality - just like Jimmy Carter in the late 70s.

I honestly hope you are right and I am wrong!

Offline massadvj

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Nah.  He's just a very strident liberal who simply cannot bring himself to deal with the harsher side of reality - just like Jimmy Carter in the late 70s.

If he is simply a liberal, then he must understand that a nuclear Iran destroys any possibility of attaining the liberal dream of global nuclear disarmament.  Iran going nuclear will ignite a Middle East arms race.  I wouldn't go so far as to claim OPapaDoc is an Iranian agent (although I wouldn't rule it out), but he certainly does not seem all that concerned about Iran joining the nuclear club. That is perplexing, given the liberals' distaste for nuclear proliferation.

"She only coughs when she lies."

Offline Gazoo

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Is it really true that a President is vetted in the media only and has no clearance to pass? Reading Gates book I see even he has to pass muster with a background check clearance. A VP is background checked was Obama? If so why was his ALIAS not explained/vetted right away in the media?
"The Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.

When does the Republican Party, put in the majority by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance"?

Online Bigun

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If he is simply a liberal, then he must understand that a nuclear Iran destroys any possibility of attaining the liberal dream of global nuclear disarmament.  Iran going nuclear will ignite a Middle East arms race.  I wouldn't go so far as to claim OPapaDoc is an Iranian agent (although I wouldn't rule it out), but he certainly does not seem all that concerned about Iran joining the nuclear club. That is perplexing, given the liberals' distaste for nuclear proliferation.

I did not reach my conclusion based on any one thing but the totality of everything that has taken place from when he announced his candidacy for president forward. I am NOT at all trying to be cavalier about it.

Offline massadvj

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I did not reach my conclusion based on any one thing but the totality of everything that has taken place from when he announced his candidacy for president forward. I am NOT at all trying to be cavalier about it.

It's not an unreasonable supposition based on his actions.  It's just a leap I haven't made yet.  At the very least, OPapaDoc seems uninterested in continuing the proxy war against Iran that has been going on since Carter.  He is, in effect, surrendering.  Whether he is doing that because he is an Iranian agent, a political coward, or simply an airheaded liberal I can't rightly say.  Maybe he's all three.
"She only coughs when she lies."

Online Bigun

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Is it really true that a President is vetted in the media only and has no clearance to pass? Reading Gates book I see even he has to pass muster with a background check clearance. A VP is background checked was Obama? If so why was his ALIAS not explained/vetted right away in the media?

The Constitution says that  "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States." US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

It does not anywhere state - nor to my knowledge  is there any law that states - exactly how candidates for the office are to be vetted to make sure they meet those requirements. If I am wrong on this I would welcome being corrected!

Offline Rapunzel

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I don't believe that is the case. I believe Obama is an Iranian agent under the complete control of WH Chief of Staff Valerie Jarrett!

Exactly.  To know what they are about you have to know who they are conspiring with, Not only Jarrett, but remember Huma?  Her parents ARE Muslim Brotherhood higher-ups....and Iranian, too.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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Nah.  He's just a very strident liberal who simply cannot bring himself to deal with the harsher side of reality - just like Jimmy Carter in the late 70s.

Jimmy Carter was a neophyte compared to this team.  There is no comparison...... not even close.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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The Constitution says that  "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States." US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

It does not anywhere state - nor to my knowledge  is there any law that states - exactly how candidates for the office are to be vetted to make sure they meet those requirements. If I am wrong on this I would welcome being corrected!

I find it distressing the founders drafted such a brilliant document and then left out the proper checks and balances - as in show us proof you're a citizen before running for President.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776


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