Benny Avni, writing in the New York Post, observes:
For months now, we’ve heard that fall would be the time to re-evaluate the diplomacy on Iran and perhaps finally confront the mullahs over their nuclear program. Now that fall is here, it turns out that President Obama doesn’t do confrontation in foreign policy.
Late last week, when the mullahs finally answered Obama’s repeated pleas to “engage,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs acknowledged that, as always, the response was a non-answer. “Iran’s proposals have, time and again, failed to live up to its international obligations,” he said.
Oh, never mind, the White House said shortly afterward: Let’s try anyway. So now talks with Iran are scheduled officially to begin Oct. 1. They’ll be based on Tehran’s “offer.”
As Avni points out, the Iranians ironically want to talk about global nuclear proliferation, not theirs.
Meanwhile, the “international community,” whose opinion Obama thinks so highly of, is being directed away from the enforcement of sanctions against Iran and toward this very same objective—global nonproliferation. We can see how this plays out:
In the past, the [UN security] council ordered Iran to suspend all its uranium-enrichment activity. Now the administration is signaling a willingness to drop that demand, complains former Israeli national-security adviser Giora Eiland. Instead, says Eiland, Team O plans to set up unspecified assurances that Iran’s enrichment would remain at the low levels required for a nonmilitary nuclear power, in hopes of preventing it from reaching the levels needed for the bomb.
Theoretically, Eiland says, it’s possible to establish conditions that would prevent Iran from obtaining weapons even if it enriches its own uranium. But for that to work, America must be tough in the negotiation process, insisting that those conditions would be accepted and enforced; Iran would resist.
“I don’t believe the US will be forceful enough,” Eiland told me. “Obama isn’t willing to risk a real crisis” that may lead to a breakdown in talks with Iran.
And that’s precisely what we have seen. Obama’s refusal to accept “no” has tipped his hand, which is to avoid at all costs a confrontation that might require American action. It is conflict avoidance in its most extreme form. Refuse to recognize and certainly never emphasize the other side’s objectionable behavior. Be determined to ignore what the other side says and attribute good motives or ambiguity when there is no evidence of either. Suggest that the danger is exaggerated, illusory, or at least not immediate. And then talk and talk and talk.
But this is not a bank-hostage situation in which as long as the robbers are talking, they aren’t shooting. Here the Iranians (aside from killing and abusing their own people) are diligently at work on a nuclear-weapons program. And then what? We’ll no doubt hear that this can be contained or deterred or that there remains doubt as to what capability the Iranians actually possess. You see, in for a penny, in for a pound when you’re playing the conflict-avoidance game. But it’s no game, and lacking an American administration willing to accept its obligations and responsibilities, the Israelis will, it seems, have to take matters into their own hands. Unlike Obama, the Israelis are well aware that conflict avoidance is a dangerous and unworkable self-delusion. It is, strictly speaking, reality avoidance. The resulting false sense of security is a luxury that Israel cannot afford.