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CBS News reported that during the Democratic primaries Barack Obama promised to meet the leaders of Iran “without preconditions.” Within days of his election, the State Department began drafting a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intending to pave the way for face-to-face talks. Then, less than a week after taking office, Obama told al-Arabiya’s satellite network, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.” The president dispatched former Defense Secretary William Perry to engage a high-level Iranian delegation led by a senior Ahmadinejad adviser.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, responded to Obama’s pleading by stating that the “U.S. President said that we were waiting for the day when people would take to the streets. At the same time they write letters saying that they want to have ties and that they respect the Islamic Republic. Which are we to believe?”
While the Iranian leaders, be it Khomeini, Ahmadinejad, or Khamenei seek to intimidate their enemies, weak American presidents like Carter and Obama find answers in appeasement. Carter shied away from military confrontation, and only after months of pondering a possible military operation and, what resulted in fruitless State Department back-channel negotiations with the Iranians, did Carter give the “go ahead” in April of 1980 for action to be taken. The decision came five months after the American hostages were taken, the U.S. embassy invaded, and America humiliated and proved to be a disaster for America, signaling to America’s Islamic enemies that the U.S. was a “paper tiger.”
President Obama, much like President Carter, has refrained from taking action against Iran. He stayed on the sidelines when more than a million Iranians marched in the streets of Tehran in protest over the stolen elections by Ahmadinejad, in the summer of 2009. These days he is relying on talks to settle the nuclear issue with the Iranians, when it is clear to everyone that Iran has no intention of stopping its race towards a nuclear bomb. Moreover Obama is doing everything to stop Israel from taking military action while such action is still possible.
Various Obama administration officials have let it be known, in what has become a mantra, that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s program by only 1-3 years. Ret. Gen. Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the United States Army, response to that is, “My judgment tells me that if we did something as devastating as we could do, taking down their major sites, which also means their engineers and scientists, I think the setback would be greater than five years. I don’t like to read too much into people’s motivations, but at times when we don’t want to do something, we build a case in terms of our interpretation that it is too hard or it isn’t worth the payoff.”
According to Keane, a retired four-star general, the Obama administration, with all its talk about preventing Iran from getting a bomb, isn’t willing to attack militarily. “I don’t believe this administration has any intention, ever, of attacking Iran.” He continued, “I don’t believe it, the Israelis don’t believe it, and the Iranians don’t believe it.”
Obama much like Jimmy Carter is proving to the Iranians and to the Islamic world in general, that America is on the decline, and lacks the will to fight for its global security interests. The Obama administration has already invoked containment of a nuclear Iran as a default option for the U.S. Before this happens, the administration should carefully weigh the costs, and risks of such a policy. In the meantime, the talks with Iran are used by Obama to excuse his military inaction.
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