Friday, March 9, 2012

Krauthammer: President Obama is Egomaniacal

Iran's two-stage Sejil 2 Surface-to-Surface Missile, with a current range of 1,560 miles.  Distance from Tehran to Tel Aviv, 860 miles.

When the only tool in your tool chest is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.   In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer continues the drum beat that President Obama is a Chamberlainesque master of appeasement, while Newt the Historian continues channeling Winston Churchill.  Romney has gone so far as to flatly declare that if President Obama is reelected, Iran will acquire the bomb.  But when pressed to explain how his policy towards Iran would differ from the president, Romney has no explanation.  Romney's criticisms of the President's Iran policy has merited two "Pinocchios" from the Washington Post, no longer a bastion of liberal leanings.

Krauthammer levels a serious charge against the president in his op-ed piece:  The president is motivated not by preventing Iran from obtaining a bomb.  Instead, he is driven by preventing Israel from starting a new middle-east war by preemptive strikes on the development facilities in Qom and elsewhere throughout Iran so that he can sail smoothly through reelection on November 9:
After ostensibly tough talk about preventing Iran from going nuclear, the Obama administration acquiesced this week to yet another round of talks with the mullahs.
This, 14 months after the last group-of-six negotiations collapsed in Istanbul because of blatant Iranian stalling and unseriousness. Nonetheless, the new negotiations will be both without precondition and preceded by yet more talks to decide such trivialities as venue.

These negotiations don’t just gain time for a nuclear program about whose military intent the International Atomic Energy Agency is issuing alarming warnings. They make it extremely difficult for Israel to do anything about it (while it still can), lest Israel be universally condemned for having aborted a diplomatic solution.
. . . .
Obama garnered much AIPAC applause by saying that his is not a containment policy but a prevention policy. But what has he prevented? Keeping a coalition of six together is not prevention. Holding talks is not prevention. Imposing sanctions is not prevention
. . . .
The world’s greatest exporter of terror (according to the State Department), the systematic killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the self-declared enemy that invented “Death to America Day” is approaching nuclear capability — and the focus of U.S. policy is to prevent a democratic ally threatened with annihilation from preempting the threat?
Indeed it is. The new open-ended negotiations with Iran fit well with this strategy of tying Israel down. As does Obama’s “I have Israel’s back” reassurance, designed to persuade Israel and its supporters to pull back and outsource to Obama what for Israel are life-and-death decisions.
. . . . 
Yet beyond these obvious contradictions and walk-backs lies a transcendent logic: As with the Keystone pipeline postponement, as with the debt-ceiling extension, as with the Afghan withdrawal schedule, Obama wants to get past Nov. 6 without any untoward action that might threaten his reelection.
For Israel, however, the stakes are somewhat higher: the very existence of a vibrant nation and its 6 million Jews. The asymmetry is stark. A fair-minded observer might judge that Israel’s desire to not go gently into the darkness carries higher moral urgency than the political future of one man, even if he is president of the United States.
I suspect Krauthammer doesn't know what  President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu said to one another in their private meetings earlier this week, but nothing President Obama has said publicly in recent days before and after their meeting can be seen as notice to the Israelis that they will lose America's support if they determine it is their best interest to conduct a preemptive strike on the enrichment facilities in Iran. 

The American people were rushed into a war in Iraq that proved to be based on a faulty premise.  We are now feeling the severe economic pain of fighting two costly wars in a decade that we haven't paid for.  We have European and Middle-east allies, besides Israel, that may well suffer substantially more pain than America by a new conflagration in the Middle-east.  Why on earth would President Obama do anything that would signal that the U.S. wants Israel to proceed and send it jets into Iran?

I think that Obama's strategy can be seen through a more rational and laudatory lens than Krauthammer sees it.  Assuming he really believes what he wrote.  We don't need another war at this particular stage of history.  A war with Iran and the inevitable spike in energy prices will bring on a new recession world-wide.  Europe is even now hanging by its teeth from a descent into that valley, and may have already started down.  The Chinese economy is softening substantially.  The U.S. is spending money is doesn't have just to stay above water as it gradually climbs out of its hole.  More importantly, we don't need to send more of our young men and women into conflict until we have exhausted all alternatives to war.  It's is the simple concept of a Just War.

Obama knows that public support for a conflict with Iran will be a hard sell.  Why not give the Iranians an opportunity to help make the case for the war by leaving the crippling economic sanctions in place a little longer.  The Iranians claim that their nuclear development is for peaceful energy purposes.  If in the face of the severe crippling of their economy, they don't open up their nuclear program to full inspection by the West, that will be very solid evidence that they can't be dissuaded from developing nuclear weapons that will be more persuasive to the American people that.

I suspect Krauthammer doesn't believe the charge he levels.  I think this appeasement charge is just part and parcel of an effort to persuade Jewish voters to reassess the President.  Absent a double-dip recession, the Republican are faced with a mediocre chance in the presidential election later this year. The GOP is desperate to cobble together wedge issues, appeasement of Iran and the contraceptive mandate, targeted at two constituencies that generally break for the Democrats politically.

Finally, what does Krauthammer want the president to do?  Presumably, based on his article, he wants the president to make international inspection a condition for having any future talks, and he wants the President to set a strict and short timetable for the Iranians to comply.  In short, he doesn't want to give the economic sanctions a chance to work, or to help prove the case for war.

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