Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obama trying to contain the wrong country

by Carl in Jerusalem

The graphic at the top of this post might go a long way toward explaining the Obama administration's behavior. With the apocalyptic mullahcracy of Iran on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons, President Obama has decided torestrain Israel instead (Hat Tip: Memeorandum) (full article availablehere for those who don't have access to the Wall Street Journal).
In a single sound bite, General Dempsey managed to tell the Iranians they can breathe easier because Israel’s main ally is opposed to an attack on Iran, such attack isn’t likely to work in any case, and the U.S. fears Iran’s retaliation. It’s as if General Dempsey wanted to ratify Iran’s rhetoric that the regime is a fearsome global military threat.

If the U.S. really wanted its diplomacy to work in lieu of force, it would say and do whatever it can to increase Iran’s fear of an attack. It would say publicly that Israel must be able to protect itself and that it has the means to do so. America’s top military officer in particular should say that if Iran escalates in response to an Israeli attack, the U.S. would have no choice but to intervene on behalf of its ally. The point of coercive diplomacy is to make an adversary understand that the costs of its bad behavior will be very, very high.

The general is not a free-lancer, so his message was almost certainly guided by the White House. His remarks only make strategic sense if President Obama’s real priority is to contain Israel first—especially before the November election.

This might also explain General Dempsey’s comments that the U.S. doesn’t believe Iran’s regime has decided to build an atomic bomb and that it is a “rational” actor, like, say, the Dutch. This would be the same rational Iran that refuses to compromise on its nuclear plans despite increasingly damaging global sanctions, and the same prudent actor that has sent agents around the world to bomb Israeli and Saudi targets, allegedly including in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.

Iran doesn’t need to explode a bomb, or even declare that it has one, to win its nuclear standoff. All it needs to do is get to the brink and make everyone believe it can build a bomb when it wants to. Then the costs of deterring Iran go up exponentially, and the regime’s leverage multiplies in the Middle East and against American interests. General Dempsey’s assurances obscure that military and political reality.

Like most of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy, General Dempsey’s comments will have the effect of making war more likely, not less. They will increase Israel’s anxiety about U.S. support, especially if Mr. Obama is re-elected and he has a freer political hand. This may drive Israel’s leadership to strike sooner. Weakness invites war, and General Dempsey has helped the Administration send a message of weakness to Israel and Iran.
I have only two explanations for this seemingly irrational behavior by the Obama administration and neither of them reflects favorably on the current White House incumbent. One is that Obama genuinely hates Israel and wishes to extirpate the world's only Jewish state. Support for that proposition may be found here.

The second explanation is that deep down, Obama sympathizes with radical Islam and its goals. That would go a long way toward explaining many things that Obama has done in the last three years, starting from the Cairo speech and the appearance at Treblinka in which he claimed that the only justification for a Jewish state was the Holocaust.

Of course, both explanations may be correct. And there is a third explanation: Obama is naive or a useful idiot. But I am giving less and less credence to that explanation. I believe he's acting purposefully.