Obama and Iran

How Obama has backed himself into a corner on Iran policy:

‘To pro-war demagogues, it is of little consequence that Obama is the first U.S. president to implement unilateral Congressional Iran sanctions against a foreign company. While Democrats may tout this as evidence of Obama’s success on Iran, it is a pyrrhic victory. In spending the past year focused on sanctions, the president failed to seize opportunities to capitalize on negotiations that could have created measurable progress on the Iran issue — including the removal of significant stockpiles of uranium from Iran, a potential reduction in Iran’s enrichment levels, and, most importantly, the opening for ongoing negotiations that hold the only opportunity for success. Instead, the administration and the Democrats have been stuck with touting the suffering of ordinary people in Iran as evidence of successful “pressure” against the country…

…Because Obama has failed to set the terms of the debate on Iran, the administration finds itself trapped. Even the upcoming talks with Iran are now being construed by White House spokespersons as “pressure”. The so-called “dual track” approach has ebbed into an approach focused solely on pressure, because this is supposed to be politically palatable. But if Obama is standing behind a podium in September 2012 across from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin, and the criteria for a successful Iran policy is ‘who can be most confrontational’, the candidate willing to spew the most insane, bellicose, and counterproductive Iran tirade wins the debate. And no matter how far Obama is willing to run in this direction, he will face a challenger who is more than willing to run even further.’

Instead of capitulating to these goons, Obama and his team need to be constructing a coherent counter-narrative of why it would be insane to attack Iran and why the administration isn’t going to. By repeating tired old phrases about ‘pressure’ and ‘keeping military action on the table’, Democrats are echoing empty slogans that contribute to nothing positive or constructive with regards to Iran – if your biggest success is sanctions, then you need to be reconsidering your Iran policy. And it feeds into this whole echo chamber dynamic where no-one can deviate from belligerence because to do so is a sign of weakness, which as the writer argues dramatically curtails the options of Obama or indeed anyone working for a solution on Iran.

(I promised a man that I met in Sa’adi’s tomb in Shiraz that the UK wouldn’t attack Iran. As our dear leader DC doesn’t even seem clear on whether Tehran has a nuclear bomb or not, I’m hoping that holds good.)


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