October 8, 2012

Iran's endorsement of Obama for re-election

It was probably an endorsement presidential candidate Barack Obama would have welcomed four years ago, but might not be a plus this time around. Four years ago, Mr. Obama repudiated then-President George W. Bush's policies toward the Islamic Republic, claiming that a new policy was in order to address the issues with Iran's nuclear program. Mr. Obama at that time espoused a policy of "engagement" with the mullahs in Tehran, believing that he could reason with them and bring about positive change in their positions.

I have been either working or following events in this part of the world for almost four decades. I usually laugh to myself when a novice comes forward with his belief that merely talking, maybe using different words, is going to change long-held positions and ideas. The people of the Middle East have been dealing and double-crossing each other and the rest of the world since the world began. To think that an organizer from south Chicago was going to change the Iranian leadership by force of persona was naive at best, arrogant at worst.

Four years later, the Iranians have yet to slow their uranium enrichment program, and President Obama's policy of "engagement" had failed to yield any results. The only things that have impacted the Iranian quest to develop a nuclear weapon are the cyber attacks on the uranium enrichment effort itself and increased economic sanctions on the country. The sanctions are in place over the President's wishes - he must still think that at some point, he is going to be able to negotiate with the Iranian leadership.

Mr. President, we've been down this road how many times since you've been in office? What do we have to show for it? Nothing. Every time there are talks, it yields the same results. The Iranians agree to talk about having more talks. All the while, the centrifuges continue to spin and their stockpile of enriched uranium increases.

Mr. President, do you sense a pattern here? The Iranians have made it abundantly clear that they are not interested in talks - talks for them are merely a tactic to delay actions against them. To use one of your favorite phrases: let me be clear, they do not want to talk to you.

However, the Iranians do want to see you re-elected so you can continue your what many would describe as misguided policies. The fact that the speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani favors your re-election should give you pause - that endorsement essentially validates the failure of your position.

In Speaker Larijani's own words, "We are leaning more in favor of Barack Obama because he is more flexible and rational...."

Those are troubling words, especially coming from the leader of Iran. Yes, that Iran - the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, the people who brought the world Hizballah, the people who killed American hostages in Lebanon in the 1980s, the people who seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took and held 52 American hostages in 1979-80, the regime that trained, funded and equipped anti-American militias in Iraq and Afghanistan (and may still be doing so), the people who have vowed to eradicate the State of Israel, the people who are hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and the means with which to deliver those weapons. Yes, them.

The thought that the Iranian leadership want you re-elected should concern you. It sure does concern me.