Surrendering to Iran
The most recent stop on America’s surrender tour came yesterday, when President Obama scrapped plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. The original plan, established by President Bush in 2007, was designed to protect America’s European allies against the threat of an Iranian missile attack. In defending the latest policy of appeasement, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that Iran’s long-range missile threat is “not as immediate” as the United States once thought.
Yet, in April, two months after Iran launched a satellite into space, it successfully launched its Sejil-2 missile, which has a range of about 1,200 miles—meaning the outskirts of Europe are now well within reach of the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror. It’s difficult to imagine a threat being any more immediate than that.
Additionally, in a report filed the same day President Obama and Secretary Gates minimized the Iranian threat, the Associated Press claims to have seen a secret document produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency which says Iran now has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is working to build the delivery system needed for the weapon. This assessment follows another recent report from the UN about Iran’s ongoing enrichment activities. At the current pace, Caroline Glick believes, Iran will have sufficient quantities of uranium to build two atomic bombs by February.
It’s impossible to overstate the significance of these dramatic developments in the United States. Forces of appeasement in Washington are now so strong that even the United Nations seems almost hawkish by comparison.
Much has been made of the upcoming UN Security Council meeting on September 24 when, for the first time in history, a U.S. president will preside over the conference. Less has been made of the fact that as chair of the summit, President Obama sets the agenda for the meeting. Earlier this month, America’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the session would “focus on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any particular countries” (emphasis mine throughout).
As Anne Bayefsky notes here, even the UN Secretariat’s agenda for the month of September “lists nonproliferation specifically in relation to Iran and North Korea and does not list disarmament.” But on September 24, when President Obama presides, don’t expect any finger pointing. He thinks more broadly, in terms of worldwide nuclear disarmament.
This agenda perfectly summarizes a reoccurring theme in President Obama’s approach to foreign policy. In 2007, as a U.S. senator, he proposed a plan for eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world. If elected as president, the New York Times wrote at the time, Senator Obama would
lead a global effort to secure nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years. He also will pledge to end production of fissile material for weapons, agree not to build new weapons and remove any remaining nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert.
As president, he has echoed these same utopian ideals. In Prague, earlier this year, he said, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Of course, a world without nuclear weapons, in his mind, means America takes the lead in dismantling first. But when it comes to the grave threat any other nation poses—like North Korea or Iran—the Obama administration has repeatedly turned a blind eye to an obvious and existential danger. In April, for example, President Obama followed through on campaign promises to drop the condition that Iran first suspend its uranium enrichment program before Washington would talk with Tehran.
The new American government has been steadfast and consistent in its attempts to reach out to Iran, calling for a “new beginning” in U.S.-Iranian relations—even pleading for the mullahs to unclench their fists.
President Ahmadinejad’s blunt responses to such gestures of conciliation have been along these lines: “Any hand outstretched to attack us will be cut off.” This too: “We say to you today that you are in a position of weakness. Your hands are empty, and you no longer promote your interests from a position of strength.”
Even still, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued earlier this year, conciliatory gestures toward Iran have been necessary to put the United States in a better position to organize “crippling” international sanctions against the Iranian regime, in case it refuses to come to the negotiation table.
And that pretty much sums up the central conflict between the United States and Iran these past eight months. Amid all the rhetoric, the fundamental issue for the Obama administration hasn’t been Iran’s stubborn refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. It’s Tehran’s unwillingness to talk.
In April, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the U.S., Britain, Russia, China, France—plus Germany set a September deadline for Iran: negotiate or face sanctions.
Last week, with the deadline looming, lo and behold, Tehran finally decided to unclench its fist! Its nuclear enrichment program, of course, is not up for discussion. That issue is “finished,” Ahmadinejad said on September 7. “We will never negotiate on the Iranian nation’s rights.”
But he does want to talk, according to Iran’s five-page letter of acceptance, addressed to the U.S.-led G-5+1 last week. “In the name of the Almighty,” the mullahs wrote, Iran wants to help mobilize global resolve “toward complete disarmament and preventing development and proliferation of nuclear, chemical and microbial weapons.”
Conservative commentators called the letter an insult. Stratfor said it “made a mockery of Western demands.” Even the leftist New York Times accused the regime of posturing. “Unfortunately,” the Times editorialized, “there is no sign that Iran is serious about doing much more than buying more time.”
Washington initially rejected the proposal as unsatisfactory. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post last week, the U.S. was ready to abandon engagement and to apply sanctions. The article cited several officials close to the Obama administration who claimed that the White House had become frustrated with Iran’s diplomatic game of cat-and-mouse.
Then the White House made a stunning about-face and decided to accept the offer. Europe begrudgingly followed along.
Why such an inexplicable reversal? “Unless they received some secret Iranian assurances,” which Barry Rubin admits is doubtful, “it means that the State Department mid-level officials scoffed at the letter but as it went up the chain of command, to Obama itself, he chose to accept it.”
And why not? After all, if there are two policies President Obama firmly believes in, it’s talking to enemies without preconditions and building a nuclear-weapons-free world—beginning with the United States.
All of this means Iran has dodged yet another bullet aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions. It also supplies Tehran with more valuable time to reach the nuclear finish line.
For the United States, meanwhile, it represents another monumental defeat in the war against terrorism’s primary state sponsor—the regime that has been targeting and killing Americans for going on 30 years.