According to the old adage, we should never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence. For the first half of the Obama presidency, despite the swirling conspiracy theories about the President, his advisors and the Administration in general, I was firmly of the opinion that Obama was simply an incompetent ignorant newbie who surrounded himself with advisors of the calibre of mediocre high school students.
Lately however it has become increasingly obvious that Obama is no incompetent, at least when it comes to dealing with Iran, ISIS and extremist Islam (some would say Islam in general). He indeed has a coherent strategy, and it is terrifying.
A series of articles in the press, not just the Jewish or Israeli media but worldwide, reinforces this feeling.
… Though we have long supported negotiations with Iran as well as the interim agreement the United States and its allies struck with Tehran, we share several of those concerns and believe they deserve more debate now — before negotiators present the world with a fait accompli.
The problems raised by authorities ranging from Henry Kissinger, the country’s most senior former secretary of state, to Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia’s junior Democratic senator, can be summed up in three points:
●First, a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and restrict that capability.
●Second, in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other US allies.
●Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that it will seek to implement any deal it strikes with Iran — including the suspension of sanctions that were originally imposed by Congress — without seeking a vote by either chamber. Instead, an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and US national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term.
The article goes on to quote from a very long essay in Mosaic Magazine detailing Obama’s terrifying Iran strategy:
Inexperience is a problem in this administration, but there is no lack of strategic vision. Quite the contrary: a strategy has been in place from the start, and however clumsily it may on occasion have been implemented, and whatever resistance it has generated abroad or at home, Obama has doggedly adhered to the policies that have flowed from it.
But Obama does have a relatively concrete vision. When he arrived in Washington in 2006, he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—
The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli “peace process”; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria. Baker and Hamilton believed that Bush stood in thrall to Israel and was therefore insufficiently alive to the benefits of cooperating with Iran and Syria. Those two regimes, supposedly, shared with Washington the twin goals of stabilizing Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi groups. In turn, this shared interest would provide a foundation for building a concert system of states—a club of stable powers that could work together to contain the worst pathologies of the Middle East and lead the way to a sunnier future.
Obama not only adopted the blueprint but took it one step further, recruiting Vladimir Putin’s Russia as another candidate for membership in the new club. The administration’s early “reset” with Russia and its policy of reaching out to Iran and Syria formed two parts of a single vision
Obama based his policy of outreach to Tehran on two key assumptions of the grand-bargain myth: that Tehran and Washington were natural allies, and that Washington itself was the primary cause of the enmity between the two. If only the United States were to adopt a less belligerent posture, so the thinking went, Iran would reciprocate. In his very first television interview from the White House, Obama announced his desire to talk to the Iranians, to see “where there are potential avenues for progress.”…
Unfortunately, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, ignored the president’s invitation. Five months later, in June 2009, when the Green Movement was born, his autocratic fist was still clenched
If this show of deference was calculated to warm the dictator’s heart, it failed. “What we intended as caution,” one of Obama’s aides would later tell a reporter, “the Iranians saw as weakness.”
But when Khamenei finessed the situation by adopting a seemingly more flexible attitude toward negotiations, Obama quickly obliged. Delighted to find a receptive Iranian across the table, he dismissed the French call for toughness, instead volunteering a plan that would meet Iran’s desire to keep most of its nuclear infrastructure intact while proving to the world that it was not stockpiling fissile material for a bomb. In keeping with his larger aspirations, the president also placed Moscow at the center of the action, proposing that the Iranians transfer their enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for fuel rods capable of powering a nuclear reactor but not of being used in a bomb. The Iranian negotiators, displaying their new spirit of compromise, accepted the terms. Even President Ahmadinejad, the notorious hardliner, pronounced himself on board.
Obama, it seemed to some, had pulled off a major coup. Less than a year after taking office, he was turning his vision of a new Middle East order into a reality. Or was he? Once the heat was off, Khamenei reneged on the deal, throwing the president back to square one and in the process weakening him politically at home.
Mosaic Magazine continues where the Algemeiner leaves off:
The Israelis did more than just criticize Obama; they also threatened to take action against Iran that would place the president in an intolerable dilemma.
To this challenge, Obama responded by putting Israel in a bear hug. From one angle, it looked like an expression of profound friendship: the president significantly increased military and intelligence cooperation, and he insisted, fervently and loudly, that his policy was to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all means possible. With the aid of influential American Jews and Israelis who testified to his sincerity, Obama successfully blunted the force of the charge that he was hostile to Israel.
From another angle, however, the bear hug looked like an effort to break Netanyahu’s ribs.
Possibly the worst part of the entire essay is this little paragraph on Obama’s treachery – exposed by none other than the Iranian Foreign Minister himself:
Obama has repeatedly stated, most recently in his 2015 State of the Union address, that the interim agreement “halted” the Iranian nuclear program. Or, as he put it in his March 2014 interview, the “logic” of the JPOA was “to freeze the situation for a certain period of time to allow the negotiators to work.” But the agreement froze only American actions; it hardly stopped the Iranians from moving forward.
We can say with certainty that Obama has had no illusions about this asymmetry—that he conducted the negotiations with his eyes wide open—because the White House took pains to hide the truth from the American public. In 2013, instead of publishing the text of the JPOA, it issued a highly misleading fact sheet. Peppered with terms like “halt,” “roll back,” and “dismantle,” the document left the impression that the Iranians had agreed to destroy their nuclear program.
The Iranian foreign minister, however, refused to play along. He protested—loudly and publicly. “The White House version both underplays the [American] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments,” Javad Zarif correctly told a television interviewer. “The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again.” He defied the interviewer to “find a . . . single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text.”
Read the whole thing. It’s fascinating although horrifying.
In the light of this strategy, not only is Obama’s hostility to Israel, and in particular to Binyamin Netanyahu to be expected. It also now becomes clear how Obama could have delivered such a ridiculous speech as he did last week, in which he compared the ruthlessness of ISIS to the brutality of the Crusades.
I’ll let “The Diplomad” explain:
At this week’s prayer breakfast he took it upon himself to remind the audience that people have done “terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
the “most important man in the world,” the “leader” of the Free World, the man who would make us ” safe,” was talking about the Crusades. Yes, the Crusades; you know the ones from some eight centuries ago. …
We have here an alleged Commander in Chief (CIC) who has the task–one would have thought–of protecting our nation and our very civilization from barbarians who, among other acts, burn prisoners to death; behead aid workers; throw gay men from tall buildings; crash airliners into skyscrapers killing thousands; kidnap and rape hundreds of school girls, and sell them into slavery; murder whole African villages; and, oh yes, vow global conquest. Our CIC, instead, repeats, and, thereby, gives credence to the jihadis, whom he won’t name, and their tiresome “Crusaders!” meme. He does this, furthermore, at a time when Christians are being persecuted and murdered all over the Muslim world.
He is willing, furthermore, to name and besmirch the founder of Christianity but not–Allah forbid!–Muhammed, the founder of Islam, a cult of death with which the West has been at war for some fourteen centuries. Islam is a totalitarian cult that seeks our submission and destruction. That seems to escape The One’s notice.
Douglas Murray at the Gatestone Institute illustrates further how Obama makes up the facts:
The Crusades — gruesome as they were — were not some early outbreak of “Islamophobia.” They were an effort, by Christian nations in Europe, to defend Christians in the Middle East who were being slaughtered by Muslim tribes, and specifically to take back the city of Jerusalem from the Muslim armies who had invaded it.
It is a very strange interpretation of history to put the blame for slavery on Christians, but to ignore William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln and other Christians who led the world in fighting to abolish it. Slavery is still practiced by Muslims in Mauritania and, as recently seen, by Boko Haram.
Murray concludes his article with this very strong admonition of Obama and his strategy:
What President Obama gave last week was not just a wrong analysis of the past and present. It was a justification for the argument that America does not have the legitimacy for doing anything meaningful against the great evil of our time, because we have “all been evil.” It is probably not ahistorical to point out that the great men who have inhabited the President’s job would, to a man, have been ashamed of him.