Obama/Rouhani: Peace in Our Time
Poor President Obama and the beleaguered nation he leads. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, ObamaCare, the IRS scandal and his most recent diplomatic fiasco, Syria. Can it get any worse? Well, you may wish to hold onto your hats, this five-year roller coaster took another deep drop this Thursday when yet another smooth-talking tyrant pulled the wool over our exalted, Quixotic president.
Rumors of an impending encounter with Iran's newly-elected president Hassan Rouhani were quashed not at the behest of Obama but by Rouhani. Why the snub? According to senior officials, the Iranians felt a meeting and a handshake posed a significant risk for Rouhani, a new leader grappling with the anti-Americanism that remains a core tenet of Iran's political culture.
No embarrassment too great, Jay Carney, White House press secretary laconically deadpanned, "President Obama was not disappointed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's decision to reject an offer of an informal meeting Tuesday at the United Nations." If he wasn't, Obama sure sounded like he'd tripped over the phone when Rouhani, like a lover playing hard to get, called him and expressed gratitude for the president's hospitality.
In what the media described as the first communication between the leaders of both countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the president claimed: "I have reiterated to Rouhani what I said in New York: while there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution."
Although it's never easy separating truth from prevarication when discussing Obama and the obsequious media which supports him, let's give it a try.
To begin with, although they are both called presidents, from a policy standpoint they are not equal. Whereas Obama is unquestionably the elected chief executive of the United States, Rouhani is a frontman for Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader who really calls the shots. With this in mind it's still prudent to examine Rouhani's background and his relationship to Iran's nuclear program over the past 10 years.
A seasoned Muslim cleric and veteran of Iran's revolutionary government. Since 1989 this lawyer and former diplomat has served on the Supreme National Security Council. In 1991 he was appointed to the Expediency Council as an adviser to the Supreme Leader. Subsequent to that position he then headed the Center for Strategic Research, a think tank for political planning. Along with other prestigious positions, Rouhani also served as deputy speaker of the Majales, Iran's Parliament. Most germane to the nuclear issues, for 16 years he headed Iran's former nuclear negotiating team. With these credentials and the blessings of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Iranian rode into to the U.N. this past week astride a conciliatory Trojan Horse.
Based upon these credentials, experiences, and the bloody nose Obama suffered at the hands of Putin and Assad these past several weeks, it's safe to say our president has about as much chance of wresting a satisfactory nuclear agreement from Iran as I have beating LeBron James one on one.
Regarding Friday's highly touted phone conversation. It was the culmination of a kumbaya week in which President Obama, desperate for a win -- or should I say anything that even resembles a win -- told the U.N. Tuesday, "the U.S. and international community's disputes with Iran over its nuclear program can't be solved overnight but said he sees an opportunity to take a "major step down a long road toward a different relationship." Overnight?
Before issuing this statement the president should have consulted with a State Department's suit and tie. He would have been informed that Iran's quest for a bomb has been going on for over 24 years and has accelerated during his administration. He went on to say that he'd directed Secretary of State Kerry pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran and that he firmly believes "the diplomatic path must be tested." The diplomatic path must be tested?
This is either feckless naiveté or a belief the American people are out to lunch. By all accounts the Iranians began their quest for a nuclear power plant before 1989. With continued assistance from the Russians, her plans came to fruition when the Bushehr I nuclear power plant went on line in September 2011. According to a critical report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that same year, Iran likely undertook research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability as far back as 2003. The report detailed allegations that Iran conducted studies related to nuclear weapons design, including detonator development, the multiple-point initiation of high explosives, and experiments involving nuclear payload integration into a missile delivery vehicle. From that point on, the Ayatollahs and their main frontman Rouhani have engaged the IAEA and Western governments in a perpetual game of ring around the rosy. During this time they have accelerated more uranium conversion to plutonium along with developing a missile delivery system capable of delivering a bomb.
The following is an example of how long Iran has been stringing along the West, the IAEA, and the U.N. in countless meetings and pointless initiatives, this latest pretension part and parcel of the others.
● Spring 2003 Iranian Proposal
● Relief of all U.S. sanctions on Iran
● Cooperation to stabilize Iraq
● Full transparency over Iran's nuclear program, including the Additional Protocol
● Cooperation against terrorist organizations, particularly the Mujahedin-e Khalq and al-Qaeda
● Iran's acceptance of the Arab League's 2002 "land for peace" declaration on Israel/Palestine
● Iran's full access to peaceful nuclear technology, as well as chemical and biotechnology.
Since that time, there have been no fewer than 18 different proposals and 6 adopted resolutions passed by the Security Council to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Unfortunately, even coupled with increasingly stringent economic sanctions, none have stunted her zeal for a nuclear weapon. According to the IAEA, Iran has amassed 16,600 functioning centrifuges, far more than necessary for civilian use. They continue to enrich low-grade fissile uranium into high-grade weapon-ready material. Iran has continued to develop its arsenal of long-range missiles, weapons capable of reaching Israel, parts of Eastern and Southern Europe, the Arabian peninsula, and American bases in the Middle East.
On May 2, 2005 the Bush Administration urged punishment of Iran for: "trying to build atomic weapons in secret and suggested the international community should respond by taking away Tehran's right to nuclear energy technology." Other world leaders dismissed the call for punitive action and instead called for incentives to encourage the Ayatollahs to "willingly give up the worrisome aspects of their energy program." How did that work out?
Following a meeting between the group of 6 -- the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran -- in Geneva, the July 20, 2008 New York Times headline read: "Nuclear Talks with Iran End in a Deadlock."
On December 6, 2010, the BBC News wrote: "Iran Nuclear Talks in Geneva End First Day Without a Deal." The article states: "On Sunday Iran said it had delivered its first domestically produced raw uranium and would now go into the talks with "strength and power."
Baghdad 2012, the New York Times: "Iran Nuclear Talks End with No Deal." The group of 5+1 wanted a freeze on Iranian production of uranium enriched to 20% purity which is considered a short step from bomb grade. Iran wished a release from sanctions and a recognition of their right to enrich.
● The Moscow Conference: June 24, 2012
● Istanbul Conference: May 16, 2013
● Geneva, scheduled for this October.
So when Obama says the diplomatic path must be tested, where has he been and what does he think has been going on for the past 10 years? On what date does this testing end? Is there a deadline? What concrete consequences will Iran face if such a deadline isn't met?
The evidence suggests this putative rapprochement is an insult to intelligent people. For a myriad of reasons this will never occur, amongst the most important is the theocratic motivation for developing a bomb. Iran has also vested enormous resources in development of weapon-grade material as well as a missile delivery system. It's asinine to believe after suffering increasingly severe sanctions for so long, they would abandon their quest for a nuclear bomb on the eve of attainment, particularly by its most ardent supporter and the man most responsible for its defense.
More likely, taking a clue from the Russian/Syrian playbook, Rouhani threw Obama a lifeline to declare "peace in our time" and go back to bullying the only country in that region that still shows him any respect, Israel.