With Iran — slower, please!

Under pressure from hawks, Obama tacks to the right

In the face of mounting pressure from hawks in Washington and the continued threat of military action from Israel, the Barack Obama Administration has been taking a harder line in its latest pronouncements about Iran.

Recent media reports have suggested that the administration is leaning toward an end-of-September deadline for Tehran to respond to U.S. diplomatic outreach concerning its nuclear programme, at which point it will consider stepping up sanctions against the Iranian energy sector.

This course would cut against the advice of a growing number of Iran analysts, who have cautioned both that the Tehran regime is in no position to negotiate at the moment and that sanctions are likely only to solidify the power of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Barack Obama has crossed a politically dangerous threshold: from actor to reactor. It’s going to be hard reversing the trend.

In the next few weeks, suppose “the Iranians” — a collective noun that should at this point only appear in quotes since no one actually knows exactly who this refers to — suppose “the Iranians” come back with this as their response to Obama’s offer of talks:

We’re ready, but clearly you aren’t. Push your healthcare plan through Congress by the end of September and then we can talk. We can’t talk to you now — you’re administration is too weighed down by domestic political issues.

How dare “the Iranians” try and dictate American affairs, everyone in Washington would scream. Indeed, the idea that a complex piece of legislation could be advanced under arbitrary external pressure would be seen as absurd.

Meanwhile, Washington appears to have picked up Michael Ledeen’s favorite mantra: “faster, please!”

Wag the dog, again

Israeli media reports that visiting National Security Adviser General Jim Jones and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have told the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop complaining about Iran because the US is preparing to take action “in eight weeks” demonstrate that even when everything changes in Washington, nothing changes. President Barack Obama has claimed that a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a high priority but the Israelis and their allies in congress and the media have been able to stonewall the issue. Israel has made no concessions on its settlement policy, which is rightly seen as the single biggest obstacle to eventual creation of a Palestinian state, and has instead pushed ahead with new building and confiscations of Arab homes. Obama has protested both Israeli actions but done nothing else, meaning that Israel has determined that the new US president’s policies are toothless, giving it a free hand to deal with the Arabs. Vice President Joe Biden’s comments that Israel is free to attack Iran if it sees fit was a warning that worse might be coming. If the Israeli reports are true, it would appear that the Obama Administration has now bought completely into the Israeli view of Iran and is indicating to Tel Aviv that it will fall into line to bring the Mullahs to their knees. In short, Israel gets what it wants and Washington yet again surrenders. [continued…]

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