Is Obama Crazy?
I am told that the definition of a crazy person is someone who keeps repeating an action, expecting a different outcome each time. Seemingly, then, President Obama’s failed on-again-off-again strategy of negotiating diplomatically with Iran makes him absolutely crazy.
Indeed, the etiology of President Obama’s failed Iran strategy dates back to the early onset of his first term in office as president. On May 18, 2009, the then newly-elected President Obama announced the first of what would amount to be many naÃ¯ve assertions about Iran: that his administration could use diplomacy as an effective means for achieving a breakthrough with the Ayatollahs.
“My expectation,” he said, “would be that if we can begin discussions soon, shortly after the Iranian elections, we should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction.”
But the president’s hopes were dashed less than half a year later, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was building a covert nuclear weapons program – and using diplomatic talks with the United States as a stalling tactic. Not one to miss an opportunity to engage an Islamic leader, however, President Obama meekly warned Iran that if the country “does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely.”
Yet, negotiate with Iran is precisely what the president did. In fact, over the next four years, a vicious cycle of failed diplomacy ensued, whereby President Obama would issue a stern series of warnings to Iran, at which point Iran’s leaders would respond to those warning by offering illusory promises to roll back the country’s nuclear program, which, in turn, would be subsequently discredited, usually through updated satellite imagery or inspection of Iran’s underground facilities by the (IAEA); at which point, the process would begin anew.
Diplomacy notwithstanding, President Obama has made progress on other areas of Iran. For instance, he has conflated the Iranian economy by passing harsh economic sanctions targeting the country’s financial sector and export capabilities. Additionally, the Obama administration has facilitated, and perhaps funded, the emergence of Iranian dissident groups, in a concerted effort to split the regime from the populace.
Furthermore, President Obama has also allegedly authorized covert action to be conducted against Iran, including the implementation of Stuxnet virus and the mysterious disappearance of some Iranian scientists. However, these efforts have neither brought down the current regime nor have they stopped Iran’s nuclear program.
In fact, many U.S. experts maintain that Iran likely believes it possesses the upper hand against the U.S. in direct negotiations; and, therefore, the current U.S. strategy is actually counterproductive – specifically, it is causing the Ayatollahs to become recalcitrant, rather than cowing them into submission – since Iran’s leaders understand that if they can hold on long enough to attain a nuclear weapons capability, they would then be able to quickly reverse these adverse effects.
Last week, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force published a report, in which the authors outlined a combination of new strategies and tactics that they believe the Obama administration should use to address the Iranian nuclear challenge, as well as wider U.S. strategic goals. The Task Force’s crazy definition of such goals: “Stopping and reversing Iran’s progression toward a nuclear weapons capability through negotiations, including direct bilateral talks.”
In more than one way, the Task Force is a microcosm of the Obama administration. Before he became secretary of defense in the Obama administration, Chuck Hagel served as the Task Force’s initial co-chairman. Furthermore, concurrent with the views of the Obama administration, the Task Force believes that the U.S. should maintain a credible military threat, but one which the Obama administration should use only as a last resort.
Thus, essentially, both the report and the Obama administration warn Iran to take a U.S. military threat seriously, yet their own credibility is a joke.
Finally, in true Chuck Hagel fashion – that is, mightily underwhelming and vastly over assuming – the report states: “For too long, US policy toward Iran has been mostly about tactics and too little about strategy. It is time to play chess, not checkers.”
Well, gentlemen, guess who invented the game of chess? Iran did.
Last Tuesday, Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, finally admitted that his organization does not currently know and is indeed incapable of determining whether or not Iran has been actively seeking nuclear weapons technology.
Let’s hope that President Obama does not suddenly decide to play chess against the Ayatollahs. For, the consequences of that prospective occurrence are truly frightening.
Mr. Raskas is served in the Israel Defense Forces and is currently a research analyst for Secure America Now.