In fairness to Barack Obama, he’s had little more than 100 days to assimilate his foreign policy—to date, all tone and relatively little substance. But things are heating up quickly, and the Obama administration seems somewhat befuddled in its response.
The reason that President Obama’s next moves are crucial is that the North Korean nuclear tests, missile launches, and bellicose threats are directly interconnected with Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear threat in the Middle East. Although these two countries are separated by thousands of miles, their strategy and interests are identical. Worse, they cooperate and coordinate closely (you’d never know this by reading MSM reports).
Back when Bush was President, Obama denigrated his characterization of both NoKo and Iran (charter members of the axis of evil), suggesting that open dialogue and “new ideas” would somehow be game changers. Unfortunately, NoKo and Iran think otherwise. A game is being played, but it appears that President Obama refuses to accept the rules.
But wait, the President is being assertive … with the Israelis.
His Secretary of State demands that all housing starts in the “settlements” be suspended immediately. After all, building apartments is a serious provocation.
In the delusional thinking of the Left, Obama believes that if the Israelis give the Palestinians everything they want, the Iranian “problem” will evaporate, wine and honey will flow throughout the Middle East, and we will achieve peace in our time.
History? Oh, forget history, forget repeated abrogation of peace plans and road maps by the Palestinians, forget Hamas’ rocket attacks on civilian population centers, forget decades of terrorist attacks, forget Palestinian corruption and incompetence, forget it all, because it’s, well, an inconvenient truth.
But I digress. The current threat is real (regardless of the mindset that dismisses it as just “bluster” on the part of NoKo and Iran).
Caroline Glick comments more intelligently than anyone in the administration or the US MSM:
Beyond its impact on Iran's technological and hardware capabilities, North Korea's nuclear program has had a singular influence on Iran's political strategy for advancing its nuclear program diplomatically. North Korea has been a trailblazer in its utilization of a mix of diplomatic aggression and seeming accommodation to alternately intimidate and persuade its enemies to take no action against its nuclear program. Iran has followed Pyongyang's model assiduously. Moreover, Iran has used the international - and particularly the American - response to various North Korean provocations over the years to determine how to position itself at any given moment in order to advance its nuclear program.
Think about it for a moment. Both NoKo and Iran make outrageous threats and then soften their rhetoric if "talks" are promised. They might even agree to a few things, with no intention of keeping their promises. They talk to buy time and that they get. Time to build nukes. Time to prepare for aggressive action. Time to fortify their defenses.
I don’t mean to belabor the point, but President Obama is supposed to be a smart guy, not a dummy like Bush. You’d think he’d better understand the rules of the big game. Like it or not, he’s a player, and to date, he's certainly no Kobe Bryant.
For instance, when the US reacted to North Korea's 2006 nuclear and ICBM tests by reinstating the six-party talks in the hopes of appeasing Pyongyang, Iran learned that by exhibiting an interest in engaging the US on its uranium enrichment program it could gain valuable time. Just as North Korea was able to dissipate Washington's resolve to act against it while buying time to advance its program still further through the six-party talks, so Iran, by seemingly agreeing to a framework for discussing its uranium enrichment program, has been able to keep the US and Europe at bay for the past several years.
THE OBAMA administration's impotent response to Pyongyang's ICBM test last month and its similarly stuttering reaction to North Korea's nuclear test on Monday have shown Teheran that it no longer needs to even pretend to have an interest in negotiating aspects of its nuclear program with Washington or its European counterparts. Whereas appearing interested in reaching an accommodation with Washington made sense during the Bush presidency, when hawks and doves were competing for the president's ear, today, with the Obama administration populated solely by doves, Iran, like North Korea, believes it has nothing to gain by pretending to care about accommodating Washington.
This point was brought home clearly by both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's immediate verbal response to the North Korean nuclear test on Monday and by Iran's provocative launch of warships in the Gulf of Aden the same day. As Ahmadinejad said, as far the Iranian regime is concerned, "Iran's nuclear issue is over."
Form over substance worked quite well during the Presidential campaign. It won’t work nearly as well when dealing with the geopolitical threats we face. Unless, of course, you don’t believe they’re threats at all, just bluster, nothing to see here, let’s move on.