Friday, June 11, 2010

The Myth Of An 'Isolated' Iran

WAPO Columnist Charles Krauthammer examines the Obama Administration's track record of accomplishment on Iran:

In announcing the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, President Obama stressed not once but twice Iran's increasing "isolation" from the world. This claim is not surprising considering that after 16 months of an "extended hand" policy, in response to which Iran accelerated its nuclear program -- more centrifuges, more enrichment sites, higher enrichment levels -- Iranian "isolation" is about the only achievement to which the administration can even plausibly lay claim.

"Isolation" may have failed to deflect Iran's nuclear ambitions, but it does enjoy incessant repetition by the administration. For example, in his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated." Two months later, Vice President Biden asserted that "since our administration has come to power, I would point out that Iran is more isolated -- internally, externally -- has fewer friends in the world." At the signing of the START treaty in April, Obama declared that "those nations that refuse to meet their obligations [to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, i.e., Iran] will be isolated."

Really? On Tuesday, one day before the president touted passage of a surpassingly weak U.N. resolution and declared Iran yet more isolated, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered at a security summit in Istanbul "in a display of regional power that appeared to be calculated to test the United States," as the New York Times put it. I would add: And calculated to demonstrate the hollowness of U.S. claims of Iranian isolation, to flaunt Iran's growing ties with Russia and quasi-alliance with Turkey, a NATO member no less.

Apart from the fact that isolation is hardly an end in itself and is pointless if, regardless, Iran rushes headlong to become a nuclear power, the very claim of Iran's increasing isolation is increasingly implausible. Just last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted an ostentatious love fest in Tehran with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil. The three raised hands together and announced a uranium transfer deal that was designed to torpedo U.S. attempts to impose U.N. sanctions.

Six weeks ago, Iran was elected to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, a grotesque choice that mocked Obama's attempt to isolate and de-legitimize Iran in the very international institutions he treasures.

Increasing isolation? In the past year alone, Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Kabul, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Caracas, Brasilia, La Paz, Senegal, Gambia and Uganda. Today, he is in China. {...}

Hence, nearly a year and a half of peace overtures, negotiation, concessions, two New Year's messages to the Iranian people, a bit of groveling about U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup and a disgraceful silence when the regime's very stability was threatened by peaceful demonstrators.

Iran's response? Defiance, contempt and an acceleration of its nuclear program.

And the world's response? Did it rally behind us? The Russians and Chinese bargained furiously and successfully to hollow out the sanctions resolution. Turkey is openly choosing sides with the region's "strong horse" -- Iran and its clients (Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas) -- as it watches the United States flailingly try to placate Syria and appease Iran while it pressures Israel, neglects Lebanon and draws down its power in the region.

To say nothing of Brazil. Et tu, Lula?

This comes after 16 months of assiduously courting these powers with one conciliatory gesture after another: "resetting" relations with Russia, kowtowing to China, lavishing a two-day visit on Turkey highlighted by a speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara, and elevating Brazil by supplanting the G-8 with the G-20. All this has been read as American weakness, evidence that Obama can be rolled.

Krauthammer, of course mentions three other rounds of sanctions passed during the Bush years. He neglects to mention that they were equally worthless and never made it to the Security Council because Russia and China threatened to veto them.

President Bush did little or nothing concrete to deal with the Iranians and their nuclear threat, although he managed a few unilateral moves - mainly in the financial sector - that hurt them. That was because we decided to go on a little side venture in Iraq and were too entangled in nation building and creating a nice little sharia-based Shiite republic there to deal with the real threats.

Still his basic point is valid, and there is no comparison for sheer fecklessness and appeasement between Bush and Obama.Bush at least gave the appearance of being willing to mix it up if he were pushed too far. Obama doesn't even have that much going for him, and I can only imagine the ridicule and scorn he provokes behind closed doors in international circles.

Actually, there is a country on the international stage that's become increasingly isolated, but it's not Iran.

It's the US.

That's what happens when your policy is to kick our friends and vainly attempt to appease our enemies.

As recent events show,whatever else you can say about the Iranian regime they aren't making that mistake.

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Anonymous said...

It is a very scarey year ahead.

B.Poster said...

Excellent post. Even before I finished reading it I long since came to the same conclusion you came to. The US is the country that is being isolated.

The notion that Iran is isolated is a joke. Unfortunately its not a funny one. Iran has Russia and China supporting them. Russia and China are the two most powerful countries on earth right now.

"That's what happens when your policy is to kick our friends and vainly attempt to appease or enemies." To a point I agree here, however, it is also what happens when you run up a massive national debt, allow your military to be worn down, and push policies that destroy your economy. This all began long before Mr. Obama camne to office. Now these policies have come to fruition.

There is now nothing America can do. Any attempt to "get tough" with Iran will be met with Russian and Chinese resistance. America simply does not have the capability to stand up to either of those great powers. Since there's nothing we can do, our best option is to get out of the Middle East entirely. Israel is in a much better position and is far more capable of dealing effectively with Iran than we can. The best thing for us to do is get out of their way