The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Soft Power

In a continuing testament to the success of the Obama administration's “soft power” diplomacy with Iran, the Islamic republic thumbs its nose at UN and Western sanctions (aided by both China and Russia who, apparently, are unimpressed with our country’s diplomatic efforts in their spheres), announces a new 600-mile range weaponized drone to much fanfare, and in the spirit of peace and understanding, calls it “the minister of death,” builds a fleet of swarming speedboats whose only purpose is to sink oil tankers and close the Straits of Hormuz, continues to hunt down and execute any opponents of its repressive theocracy, and is estimated now to have 3 public and another 6 or 7 secret uranium enrichment facilities. The Mullahs are coming around, folks, soft power diplomacy is working.

Just this week, the administration, with the uncritical assistance of the MSM, has created a narrative that according to Jed Babbin “credits its intelligence expertise with deterring an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.” This will allow the President to express (in Charles Krauthammer’s words) “theatrical outrage” if Israel strikes Iran.

As I’ve stated in earlier posts on Iran, it’s fairly obvious that many in the West and the Gulf want to use Israel as a “cat’s paw.” Let Israel do our dirty work (accompanied by a secret sigh of relief by both Gulf Arabs, Europe, and the U.S.) and then roundly condemn Israel for doing it.

Jed Babbin provides further background:
For almost two years, President Obama has used every diplomatic tool at his disposal to strengthen US ties to the Islamic world, often at Israel's expense. His administration's strongest statements and actions have been against Israel on issues ranging from construction of new Israeli homes in Jerusalem to pressure to engage in direct talks with the Palestinians.

In contrast are Obama's "open hand" policy toward Iran, his nomination of an ambassador - our first in at least five years - to Syria and his reported collaboration with Egypt on an international resolution saying the Middle East is a "nuclear free zone," which is aimed at Israel's nuclear weapons program.

Obama's attitude toward Israel is reminiscent of the British and French governments' attitudes toward Czechoslovakia in 1938 when they combined to pressure the Czechs into surrendering the Sudetenland to Germany.

The difference here is that though Chamberlain and Daladier did get the Czechs to agree to their terms, there is no reason to believe that Obama's effort has "persuaded" Israel that Iran should be allowed another year to pursue its nuclear program undisturbed. There is every reason to believe that the Israelis will attack Iran as soon as they believe they can defend themselves adequately against the inevitable counterattack.

Regardless of the [New York] Times's spin, Obama's "persuasion" of Israel only increases the pressure on the Netanyahu government, and makes the attack on Iran more likely.

As a matter of strategy, I am against Israel’s unilateral action against Iran. The potential for unintended and even disastrous consequences outweighs even the existential threat to this small, modern democracy located among medieval dictatorships and virulent theocracies, all of whom want Israel eradicated. But I understand Israel’s dilemma and recognize that very, very tough decisions will have to be made sooner, rather than later.

The problem is that Barack Obama is the first U.S. President in history who has clearly demonstrated that he cannot be trusted as an Israeli ally. Because the Israelis rightly think that no one has their back, President Obama has inadvertently increased the likelihood of war in the Middle East.