April 30, 2010

Iran sanctions and the backroom deals....

This is the epitome of sleaze, the reason most Americans view their government with scorn and contempt. In this case, it is well deserved.

As almost everyone is aware, Congress is debating the imposition of stronger unilateral economic sanctions on Iran. This comes at a time when the United Nations appears incapable of developing effective sanctions, despite the pitiful claims of President Barack Obama and his apparently feckless Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For months now we have heard how U.S. diplomatic efforts have brought Russia and China to the table in support of sanctions on Iran.

Now we read that the White House is asking Congress to allow exemptions for "cooperating countries" from what Clinton has described as these "biting sanctions." Does anyone have any doubts as to the identities of these "cooperating" countries?

In order to secure Russian and Chinese support for sanctions in the United Nations, it appears that our Secretary of State - no doubt with the encouragement and support of our President - is trying to make a deal with those two countries. Basically, it works like this: "You - Russia and China - support our proposed sanctions at the United Nations, knowing full well that any sanctions imposed by the United Nations will be so weak as to be meaningless, and we'll exempt your companies from real sanctions imposed by the United States. You can make money while Iran defies the world and makes nuclear weapons."

Why would our Secretary of State do this?

Simple - it makes it look like we are actually doing something about Iran's quest for a nuclear weapons capability. It also makes it look like we care about the threat to American ally Israel, while in reality it does absolutely nothing. Worse, it actually sends a message to China and Russia that we value the appearance of their cooperation more than the security interests of Israel. It cannot be more clear.

The real question: what are we getting in return for turning a blind eye to Russian and Chinese support for Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs?

Unfortunately, I suspect that the answer goes about as deep as either this President's or this Secretary of State's understanding of the Middle East in general or the Iran issue in particular. To coin a phrase, "They just don't get it." They are willing to trade the security of an American ally for the facade of a successful foreign policy in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, when nothing could be further from reality.

What the President and Secretary are doing is creating instability in the Middle East. At some point, their inability or unwillingness to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon will either start a major conflagration in the region in the aftermath of an Israeli military strike aimed at blunting the Iranian program - which I do not think will be effective - or be perceived by the Iranians that the United States is resigned to the fact of a nuclear-armed Iran. Both are extremely problematic.

Mr. President, this is not Chicago - this is the real world. This does not involve community organizing and union contracts, this involves our national security and the future stability of the volatile Middle East. You and Mrs. Clinton are obviously out of your league here - call in some experts.

In any case, stop making under-the-table deals with the Russians and Chinese to make yourselves look effective. It is not working - you look like the patsies you appear to be.