Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Will Obama get tough with Tehran?

By Jennifer Rubin

A report in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago suggested that a turnaround in U.S. policy toward Iran might be coming:

The U.S. and representatives of the European Union have agreed to impose joint sanctions against Iran in January and are considering breaking off talks with the country, as patience with Tehran's nuclear activities wears thin, according to people familiar with the matter.

Western officials are discussing making further talks with Iran contingent on Tehran's progress toward compliance with existing United Nations Security Council resolutions, which call on Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

Could the Obama administration really be stiffening its spine and responding to the advice of those warning that talks with the Iranian regime are counterproductive?

Well, we haven't seen any concrete signs that the administration is getting ready to break off talks. Jamie Fly of the Foreign Policy Initiative responded to my inquiry on the subject by e-mail:

Any new sanctions that can be agreed on with the Europeans are a positive development, but I'm skeptical that they will be the "crippling" sanctions we were promised but have yet to see. I also haven't seen any indication that the administration is willing to set aside the now ludicrous notion that Iran can be persuaded via negotiations to halt its nuclear weapons program.

More optimistic about the administration's resolve is an advisor to a key senator who has been urging a tougher line on Iran:

For all of us who feared engagement meant that Obama was going to be weak and naïve towards Iran, the opposite possibility is looming larger as we head into 2011 -- namely, that only Nixon could go to China.... My point is just that they are very well-positioned to pursue a very hawkish policy towards Iran now.

Time will tell who is right, but whatever position the administration takes will be greatly undermined by two decisions from earlier in Obama's term. First, administration officials have, from the get-go, downplayed the threat of military force. This provides comfort to the Iranian regime and makes the job of persuading the regime to give up its nuclear program that much more difficult. And second, we have done a poor job of supporting the Green Movement, and arguably have undercut the efforts of the regime's opponents. So, if part of the effort is to exert maximum pressure on the regime, we have, by defunding a number of groups aiding the Green Movement and by bestowing the aura of legitimacy on the despotic regime, undercut our own goal.

For those of us who believe sanctions in and of themselves will not force the regime to give up its nuclear program, the question should not simply be whether more sanctions and less talk are in the offing. The real issue is whether the administration will, if needed, employ force to disarm the revolutionary Islamic state. I remain extremely doubtful that this administration will. I hope I am wrong, or that through continued espionage we can delay the Iranians' nuclear progress until a president arrives on the scene who has no qualms about threatening and using force to defend vital American interests.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 21, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Iran, foreign policy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Bits
Next: Beware of conservative magazines bearing cover stories

Comments

Well, at least we know that the Russians will fully cooperate now that New START is cruising toward ratification. Few, I was worried. And indeed, Jen, you have to admit that all the stupendously brilliant Obamian diplomacy has created the sort of universally unified and impressively firm international diplomatic front that will have the Iranians think twice about even the possibility of retaining their Nuke program.

Posted by: cavalier4 | December 21, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Rubin, true to form, continues her warmongering dreams. The two current wars and a million dead and four million displaced just in Iraq apparently are not good enough for her. She is now longing for a president "who has no qualms about threatening and using force to defend vital American interests." And, what pray tell are these vital American interests? Who made them into American interests? I presume she means the "control" of the Middle East and its oil resources. Her colonial attitude simply belongs to a bygone era when the US played second fiddle to the UK, France and other European powers. Apparently, having huge bases in the Persian Gulf is not enough for her. She wants the US to actually own the Iranian oil wells as thieves who steal other people's properties. Well, she is going to be sadly disappointed if the US starts another war, this time with Iran. Besides, what is going to be the justification for such a war? Oh, the US does not need legal justification. Might is apparently right. Well, when the US goes bankrupt, perhaps some common sense will emerge in Washington.

Posted by: quinterius | December 21, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, when the US goes bankrupt, perhaps some common sense will emerge in Washington.
Posted by: quinterius

We are bankrupt,but we still have Credit Cards,and like all bankrupts,we use untapped credit cards to make the minimum payment on our tapped cards. The next step is either Default or a War which allows us to acquire enough assets to offset the Debt.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 21, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"The real issue is whether the administration will, if needed, employ force to disarm the revolutionary Islamic state. I remain extremely doubtful that this administration will."

We'll make sure the Israelis have all the fuel and support they need, when THEY fly the missions to Tehran!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 21, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

quinterius clearly knows little about negotiations. Unilaterally taking the option of military response off the table is a deeply stupid thing to do.

Even if there is no actual intention of excersizing that option, the fact that it is still under consideration requires that the other side consider the concept.

I suppose that quinterius never bought a car. The best way to get the best price is to demonstrate to the dealer that you're willing to walk away. Even if you actually want the car desperately, letting them know that puts you in a weakened bargaining position.

Perhaps it takes more than a latin name and the spewing of talking points from international ANSWER to understand these things quinterius.

You would be welcomed, I'm sure in the adult world, just as soon as you forsake the extended adolescence that is liberalism.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 21, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey Quinty, how's the weather on Neptune?

Posted by: johnnyramone | December 21, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

LEt me take a wild guess. The author is jewish and works for the Israeli lobby.

Posted by: brutus9448 | December 21, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Skipper/
You would be welcomed, I'm sure in the adult world, just as soon as you forsake the extended adolescence that is liberalism.
Posted by: skipsailing28

Anytime you want to have an adult conversation on the current US Economy,let's do it,but in order to do that,you do need Factual knowledge of the subject. I've seen very little of that in either the Conservative or Liberal Media.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 21, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

RC:

Not thread stealing or anything, but are you feasting on the commodity price rise? It's a very Merry Christmas indeed!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 21, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

RC:
Not thread stealing or anything, but are you feasting on the commodity price rise? It's a very Merry Christmas indeed!
Posted by: 54465446

Hiya 54,LOL,I've never been very good about making money,but I do know a lot about Debt&Bankruptcy/Double LOLs,Merry Christmas,oh smart wealthy Blogger.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 21, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This is more of Ms. Rubin's nonsensical jib jab attempting to reflexivly portrait Pres. obama as weak. Current sanctions are causing economic distruption in Iran. Iran has few diplomatic friends and the other middle east nations are all but openly hostile to Tehran. There is internal political unrest in the country.

The development of an atomic weapon will cure none of these problems. In fact it will only exacerbate them. That the leaders in Tehran are still not getting this through their heads means only that we need to keep the screws on tight and make them even tighter in 2011. Which is exactly what the Obama administration is doing.

So where is the weakness? That the President hasn't shot his mounth off about bombing Iran? Which of course would be counter productive to all of the above but would make some domestic nitwits feel all pumped up and good about themselves. What that has to do with foreign policy is anyones guess.

As to undercutting the opposition in Iran; I know many in our own country think the entire world moves and shakes everytime we speak but the simple reality is we have little ability to decisevely influence political events in countries where we have little historical or cultural influence. We have employed the entire weight of our military and political might in Iraq for 8 years and other then removing one dictator not much has changed. Once the dictatorial lid was removed sectarian voilnce engulfed the country killing 150,000 Iraqis. While they've stopped the wholesale slaughter the violence continues to simmer beneath the surface. The country continues to be rabidly anti-semitic and once we are gone will side against Israel at the first opportunity. The economy is still suffering disruption from the violence and will continue to do so for many more years. Politicall the country is unstable and I have no reason to beleive that will change anytime soon. Such is the legacy of all countries that undergo such sectarian violence and insurection.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

RC:

Nonsense! You know plenty enough to be a wealthy man, just lead with your head and not your heart. You already know that my type currency is highly inflationary, so just bet that way, although not now because we're hitting a short term peak on commodity prices which will probably fall after the new year, maybe a 5-10% correction.


On the above thread, your gold will see at least a short term peak when the inevitable happens and somebody, (hopefully the Israelis and not us) finally attacks Iran.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 21, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, u're learning...
But it takes u time to learn about domestic Iranian politics, maybe a long time...
So, for now at least, stop talking about the green movement as a force that can be manipulated by outsiders (Jennifer... e.g.)...
Other than that, u r learning...

Posted by: Kinesics | December 21, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@brutus9448 | December 21, 2010 12:06 PM:
"LEt me take a wild guess. The author is jewish and works for the Israeli lobby."
__________________

Let me take a wild guess. The commenter is a Jew-hater and works for the Arab lobby.

Posted by: HenriLeGrand | December 21, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: HenriLeGrand | December 21, 2010 10:11 PM

"Let me take a wild guess. The commenter is a Jew-hater and works for the Arab lobby."

You might be onto something if there was such a thing as an Arab lobby.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 22, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

To skipsailing28: You have no factual arguments and lots of irrelevant and nonsensical statements. So, you think I never bought a car? You must be a child or a used-car salesman. Do you have anything factual to say? Also, who gave you the right to introduce "military response" as an option? On what grounds does the US go around threatening all kinds of countries around the world? Have you heard of the UN Charter? Has Iran attacked or threatened to attack any US interests? You seem to be a bully just like the US. Your time is up!

Posted by: quinterius | December 23, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company