November 5, 2009

Iran - thankfully no 3:00am phone calls

President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (above), not to mention a host of special envoys, have yet to show any progress on any issue in the Middle East. Remember the campaign rhetoric - "Who do you want to answer the phone at 3:00am when there is a crisis in the Middle East?" Thankfully, there has not been such a call - yet. Neither the President nor his Secretary of State seems up to the task, regardless of the spin coming out of the White House and Foggy Bottom.

The most serious and urgent issue is the situation with Iran. President Obama, true to his campaign pledges, has made numerous appeals to the Islamic Republic, including allowing a few one-on-one meetings between Iranian and American officials.

In every instance, the Iranians have successfully outmaneuvered the Obama administration. Iran continues its nuclear program (no one really believes it is for electric power), continues to support numerous terrorist groups and continues to oppress its own citizenry who dare speak out against the regime.

Despite being rebuffed at every attempt, the President still hopes to "engage" Iran. When is he going to get the message that they do not want to talk seriously to the United States? In the words of Iran's Supreme Leader just a few days ago, "We do not want any negotiation, the result of which is predetermined by the United States. Every time they have a smile on their face, they are hiding a dagger behind their back. They are telling us to negotiate, but alongside the negotiation there is a threat...."

At some point, hopefully in the not too distant future, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are going to come to the realization that talking to the current regime in Tehran is useless. The Iranian leadership is not going to fore-go its quest to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, nor is it likely to cease its support for terrorist groups, most notably Hizballah and Hamas. Despite United Nations resolutions, Iran has completely rearmed Hizballah after the group's 2006 war with Israel. It continues to ship weapons to the group - a vessel from Iran loaded with 320 tons of munitions was seized off the coast of Israel this week. The weapons are said to have been destined for a Syrian port for final shipment to Hizballah. In Gaza, Iran has supplied rockets to Hamas that can reach all the way to Tel Aviv.

Likewise, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force continues to provide money, weapons and training not only to Shi'a militias in Iraq, but now also to the Taliban in Afghanistan. While the President seeks to "engage" Iran, the Iranians are killing our troops by proxy.

Thus far, all of the Administration's efforts toward Iran have failed. The Iranians see his repeated attempts to engage them as a sign of weakness and capitulation to their demands. Not only American attempts not worked, the President and Secretary have failed to gain international support for effective sanctions.

Mr. President, your policy toward Iran is not working. If you insist on talking to them, then change the rhetoric. Stop the diplo-speak and be clear. Start with, "We will not allow you to develop a nuclear weapon." Small words, easy to understand. If they still want to talk after that, continue with, "Stop supporting groups that are killing American troops, or we'll start killing yours. We're actually quite good at that."

It can't be any less effective than what you're doing now.