Obama was Bluffing on Iran

President Obama’s West Point foreign policy speech has given Israel both good and bad news. The good news for Israel is that the president has given up on the idea of achieving a so called “peace” deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, but the bad news is that Obama has no intention of ever attacking the Iranian nuclear program militarily even as a last resort and will never support an Israeli attack. Consequently, ongoing useless and endless negotiations, as well as meaningless diplomatic agreements, will lead to a nuclear Iran unless it is stopped by Israel or the U.S. Congress.

Obama’s commencement speech outlining his foreign policy doctrine confirmed at last what Israel and the Gulf States as well as Iran have all suspected, that the president was bluffing when he repeatedly stated that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including the military option. He has used the idea of such an attack as a bargaining chip against the Israeli prime minister who perceives that protecting the Jewish state against a nuclear holocaust initiated by Iran to be his ultimate responsibility. He has been bluffing to woo and pressure Israel to make major concessions to the Palestinians in any peace deal. But when he recently realized that there is no chance for any major breakthrough between Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, he showed his hand at last regarding Iran.

The fact that in his West Point speech Obama chose not to even mention the so-called “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, marks quite a telling departure for this president, who told the UN General Assembly last September as he outlined U.S. foreign policy priorities during the remainder of his presidency that “America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues; Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab Israeli conflict”.  

But the fact that Obama in his speech chose to base his future foreign policy doctrine on his personal aversion to military solutions, actions and the use of military force after a decade of U.S. wars, has reassured Iran that his military threats against them have never been credible.

In the Middle East, which houses the most brutal dictators in the world, perception of the use of power is more important than having the power. Tyrants only change their behavior if they believe that you will use your power against them. After such a speech, Iran and others will perceive the U.S. as a paper tiger. The only time Iran suspended its nuclear program was 2003, after the U.S. invaded their next door neighbor Iraq because the Ayatollahs truly believed President Bush‘s warnings that it wouldl be attacked next. 

But in his speech, Obama highlighted the fact that under his watch all U.S. troops were removed from Iraq and that those remaining in Afghanistan will soon be removed. He talked repeatedly about America “costly wars” and that “not every problem has a military solution” and that ”some of our  costly mistakes came… from our willingness to rush into military adventures” and as well as that “US military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership.” 

When the president specifically discussed Iran, he stated that “And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable than we could have achieved through the use of force.”

Unfortunately, reality shows that Obama is deluding himself. For the first time in a decade the Iranians know that they can achieve their nuclear capability without paying a price as long as they are making believe they are truly negotiating. 

The Iranians have already witnessed Obama’s desperate concessions to induce them to engage in these negotiations. In exchange for Iran agreeing to six months negotiations with the six major powers over their nuclear program, Obama conceded  them the right to continue enriching uranium while lifting many of the economic sanctions which brought Iran almost to its knees economically. Moreover, Obama fought hard to convince the pro- Israel Senate, including many Democrats, to shelve the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill, which is the legislative threat of imposing additional crippling economic sanctions against Iran if the negotiations fail. 

The July 20 deadline for the six-months talks is approaching, with the gap between Western and Iranian demands evidently unbridgeable. However, it seems that Obama and the Western powers have already agreed that the deadline could be extended by a further six months.

The only way Iran will not have a nuclear weapon is if they agree to shut down their uranium enriching underground military reactor at Fordow, remove 15,000 centrifuges, downgrade the reactor at its plutonium production facility at Arak, and export its entire stockpile of enriched uranium, which can produce a few bombs. Of course, the Iranians will never agree to such conditions without the credible threat of a military attack.

Sadly, Obama’s recent speech will only encourage Iranian deception and determination to run out the clock on negotiations and achieve their irreversible goal of acquiring a nuclear capability while Obama is still in office. 

While the Iranians could be encouraged by the fact that past U.S. administrations also failed to prevent India, Pakistan, and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Iranians should not forget that Israel destroyed both the Iraqi and the Syrian nuclear programs alone, without getting U.S. permission or assistance.  

Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her blog is www.shoularomanohoring.com 

President Obama’s West Point foreign policy speech has given Israel both good and bad news. The good news for Israel is that the president has given up on the idea of achieving a so called “peace” deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, but the bad news is that Obama has no intention of ever attacking the Iranian nuclear program militarily even as a last resort and will never support an Israeli attack. Consequently, ongoing useless and endless negotiations, as well as meaningless diplomatic agreements, will lead to a nuclear Iran unless it is stopped by Israel or the U.S. Congress.

Obama’s commencement speech outlining his foreign policy doctrine confirmed at last what Israel and the Gulf States as well as Iran have all suspected, that the president was bluffing when he repeatedly stated that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including the military option. He has used the idea of such an attack as a bargaining chip against the Israeli prime minister who perceives that protecting the Jewish state against a nuclear holocaust initiated by Iran to be his ultimate responsibility. He has been bluffing to woo and pressure Israel to make major concessions to the Palestinians in any peace deal. But when he recently realized that there is no chance for any major breakthrough between Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, he showed his hand at last regarding Iran.

The fact that in his West Point speech Obama chose not to even mention the so-called “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, marks quite a telling departure for this president, who told the UN General Assembly last September as he outlined U.S. foreign policy priorities during the remainder of his presidency that “America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues; Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab Israeli conflict”.  

But the fact that Obama in his speech chose to base his future foreign policy doctrine on his personal aversion to military solutions, actions and the use of military force after a decade of U.S. wars, has reassured Iran that his military threats against them have never been credible.

In the Middle East, which houses the most brutal dictators in the world, perception of the use of power is more important than having the power. Tyrants only change their behavior if they believe that you will use your power against them. After such a speech, Iran and others will perceive the U.S. as a paper tiger. The only time Iran suspended its nuclear program was 2003, after the U.S. invaded their next door neighbor Iraq because the Ayatollahs truly believed President Bush‘s warnings that it wouldl be attacked next. 

But in his speech, Obama highlighted the fact that under his watch all U.S. troops were removed from Iraq and that those remaining in Afghanistan will soon be removed. He talked repeatedly about America “costly wars” and that “not every problem has a military solution” and that ”some of our  costly mistakes came… from our willingness to rush into military adventures” and as well as that “US military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership.” 

When the president specifically discussed Iran, he stated that “And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable than we could have achieved through the use of force.”

Unfortunately, reality shows that Obama is deluding himself. For the first time in a decade the Iranians know that they can achieve their nuclear capability without paying a price as long as they are making believe they are truly negotiating. 

The Iranians have already witnessed Obama’s desperate concessions to induce them to engage in these negotiations. In exchange for Iran agreeing to six months negotiations with the six major powers over their nuclear program, Obama conceded  them the right to continue enriching uranium while lifting many of the economic sanctions which brought Iran almost to its knees economically. Moreover, Obama fought hard to convince the pro- Israel Senate, including many Democrats, to shelve the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill, which is the legislative threat of imposing additional crippling economic sanctions against Iran if the negotiations fail. 

The July 20 deadline for the six-months talks is approaching, with the gap between Western and Iranian demands evidently unbridgeable. However, it seems that Obama and the Western powers have already agreed that the deadline could be extended by a further six months.

The only way Iran will not have a nuclear weapon is if they agree to shut down their uranium enriching underground military reactor at Fordow, remove 15,000 centrifuges, downgrade the reactor at its plutonium production facility at Arak, and export its entire stockpile of enriched uranium, which can produce a few bombs. Of course, the Iranians will never agree to such conditions without the credible threat of a military attack.

Sadly, Obama’s recent speech will only encourage Iranian deception and determination to run out the clock on negotiations and achieve their irreversible goal of acquiring a nuclear capability while Obama is still in office. 

While the Iranians could be encouraged by the fact that past U.S. administrations also failed to prevent India, Pakistan, and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Iranians should not forget that Israel destroyed both the Iraqi and the Syrian nuclear programs alone, without getting U.S. permission or assistance.  

Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her blog is www.shoularomanohoring.com