The aim was to start with the opening of interest sections in Washington and Tehran, then progress to “full diplomatic ties, including U.S. and Iranian embassies and ambassadors in each other’s capitals, security cooperation…, [and] direct flights between the U.S. and Iran….” All this amity, it was presumed, would get Iran to give up its nuclear program.
Maariv says that, beginning in summer 2009, there were at least two U.S.-Iranian diplomatic meetings in this context. The second was between Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva in October 2009, on the sidelines of nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries.
But Tehran, as they say, wasn’t into it. An Israeli source told Maariv that the regime “opposed any sign of normalization with the U.S., and refused to grant a ‘prize’ to the Americans.”
On Obama’s part, all this would have been in the spirit of his holiday video greeting to Iran in March 2009—and, more generally, his wooing of the Islamic world and apologizing for America’s supposed sins, most notably in his June 2009 Cairo speech.
In the mullahs’ case, Obama’s belief that he could talk them into friendship is particularly striking. U.S.-Iranian relations took something of a hit when the newly installed Ayatollah Khomeini regime seized 52 American diplomats as hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, holding them for 444 days. Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens listed some additional “American victims of Iranian aggression” since that time:
The 17 Americans killed in April 1983 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Organization, later known as Hezbollah. The 241 U.S. servicemen killed by Islamic Jihad at the Marine barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983. Master Chief Robert Dean Stethem, beaten to death in June 1985 by a Hezbollah terrorist in Beirut aboard TWA flight 847. William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, tortured to death by Hezbollah that same month. Marine Col. William Higgins, taken hostage in 1988 while serving with U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon and hanged by Hezbollah sometime later. The 19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed in June 1996 in the Khobar Towers bombing, for which several members of Saudi Hezbollah were indicted in U.S. federal court.
And then there are the thousands of U.S. troops killed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most lethal IEDs were manufactured in Iran for the purpose of killing Americans.
Obama’s belief that America was at fault in having wronged and angered Iran must have been very strong to regard this record as something that could have been overcome between friends—to the extent that he was familiar with it.
The trouble is that, three years later, there are signs that Obama is still unable to grasp the fact that the Iranian regime is implacably hostile to America. It was last March, just as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington warning that Iran was closing in on the bomb, that Obama chose to renew diplomatic talks with Iran—talks that, as acknowledged by all, have been an empty sham that has merely bought Tehran time just as Israel had warned.
True, meanwhile Obama—under heavy pressure from Congress—has finally, along with other Western countries, imposed sanctions on Iran that are taking a real toll. Just two weeks ago, though, a report by the Congressional Research Service acknowledged a “consensus” that these have in no way slowed Iran’s march toward nukes.
And it was just last week that the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iran had agreed to still more nuclear talks after November 6. The White House denied the specifics of the report—but, incorrigibly convinced of Tehran’s potential amicability, said it remained ready, as ever, to meet with the mullahs and hash out the differences.
In other words, there are worrisome indications that, when it comes to Iran’s Islamist regime, the U.S. chief executive remains dangerously delusive.
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