November 22, 2011
Iran Policy: The Problem Is ObamaBy Ed Lasky
Iran is well on its way to developing nuclear weapons. Years of sanctions have not stopped them, and now President Obama will not use his most effective tool short of acts of war.
The administration opposes new sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, despite the overwhelming support that measure (spearheaded by Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk) enjoys on both sides of the aisle in Congress. The administration says such a measure would lead to a spike in oil prices and harm the world economy. That is speculation.
What is not speculation is that sanctions on the Central Bank would impose crippling costs on a weak Iranian economy and be an effective measure to help dissuade Iran to end its nuclear weapons program. Iran's Central Bank plays a crucial role in Iran's economy. Sanctioning the Central Bank makes it difficult for companies to pay for oil purchases -- and oil sales represent 50-75 percent of the government budget.
Many Iranians are disgusted with the economic stewardship shown by the theocrats and terrorists running the nation. Any additional sanctions that are actually enforced would exacerbate the tensions within Iran and widen the schisms between merchants and mullahs.
Not only does the Obama team oppose this type of sanction, but they have inverted, twisted, and perverted the logic of its proponents.
In the past few days, a Treasury official, Adam Szubin, testified before Congress that sanctions on Iran's Central Bank would actually help Iran and therefore should not be passed. Huh? His reasoning is that it may lead to a spike in oil prices.
A milder version of an amendment promoted by Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey) would give Barack Obama broad waiver authority to give a pass to central banks of other nations that continue to do business with Iran's Central Bank.
This is a classic "national security" loophole that often allows presidents to blithely ignore the legislation Congress has passed. Of course, Barack Obama is wont to do this anyway, but the loophole allows him a fig leaf of legality. The stronger Kirk Amendment does not contain this broad waiver authority and would make it far tougher for President Obama to evade the intent of the law.
If the measure does pass with a national security waiver, no one can rest assured that the waiver will be used. The Obama team clearly did not want to cut off American money to UNESCO in the wake of its admission of the Palestinians as a member. However, the legislation governing this issue was passed years ago without the waiver loophole, so the administration was forced to stop funding UNESCO (it has subsequently tried to enlist businesses in trying to get Congress to eliminate the waiver, an effort that is dead on arrival).
Where is the logic, then, of the administration periodically trotting out the statement that "all options are on the table"? This is a codephrase for a military option. It is also used to try to garner support among supporters of Israel in America. It is a campaign slogan and political strategy; it is not a real threat, and the Iranians know this fact. Why some Americans are gullible enough to believe Obama's latest campaign slogan is the topic of another column.
If the White House will not impose legal sanctions on the Central Bank because of putative economic concerns, how likely is a military strike against nuclear installations? It has a zero likelihood of happening.
That is a certainty. The Iranians know this logic, know Obama will do nothing, and know they can act with impunity -- as they have for years, murdering our soldiers in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. Most recently, they have stepped up their game and tried to bring terrorism to our nation's capital (plotting to murder the Saudi and Israel ambassadors and any innocent Americans who happened to be near them).
The Iranians can see the Obama administration's clear resistance to more potent sanctions. They can reasonably assume that stronger actions -- such as a military strike -- are definitely off the table. In fact, they were never on the table.
If Obama won't impose sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, he certainly won't order military strikes on nuclear installations.
Furthermore, President Obama said he wants a "common response" to Iran's nuclear program with Russia and China. Since Russia has dismissed the IAEA report as "biased and unprofessional," that common response would be the "lowest common denominator" response -- meaning little or no response. The best that can be hoped for is the steady drip, drip, drip of individual small companies or individuals being named as subject to sanctions. In other words, more of the same weak measures that have failed to work in the past and will fail to work now and in the future.
We periodically hear that President Obama signed the strongest Iran sanctions legislation of any U.S. president. Of course, the passage of that legislation took quite a long time to pass through Congress -- as it met resistance from certain quarters allied with Barack Obama.
Furthermore, legislation is merely a scrap of paper if the sanctions are not enforced by the Executive Branch. The Obama administration has been all but feckless in enforcing the existing sanctions on Iran. There are reasons why so many members on both sides of the aisle signed onto the Kyl-Menendez letter calling on the administration to actually enforce the legislation Congress already passed. A House letter (spearheaded by Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski) also called on the Executive Branch to enforce the sanctions on Iran.
We have a president overseeing a policy that is bankrupt, feckless, weak, and immoral.
Meanwhile, the centrifuges are not the only things spinning these days...so is the Obama administration when it comes to Iran. Richard Grenell writes in the Wall Street Journal of "Obama's Failing Diplomacy":
Ultimately, President Bush got five Security Council resolutions passed on Iran, and Obama has had one. The threat is even more critical now, and certainly more actions at the Security Council could have been taken had there been the will in the White House.
Lest we forget, the mullahs loathe America as much as they hate Israel and have boasted of their desire to destroy the United States. They are possessed of an apocalyptic vision that nuclear war will bring about the return of the "Twelfth Imam" and millennial bliss (for those few left).
The problem is that there is no will to stop them. The problem is Obama.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
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