Obama and Iran: the Russian disconnection

In 1938, the appeasers of Munich had a certain rationality to justify their collapse. France and England weren’t ready to fight. The United States was sitting it out. Nazi Germany, though evil and aggressive, was both anti-communist and clearly desirous of striking east. Hitler might not be controllable. Perhaps he might be deflected.

Barack Obama can make no such claim to rationality.

In the not-unrelated worlds of intelligence, journalism and common sense, a person or an organization’s credibility matters. The best way to determine credibility — previous experience with that person or organization.

Since 1979, the Iran of the ayatollahs has behaved and talked in a clear and credible manner. Iran is the enemy of the civilized world. What indication have they given that their decades of unrelenting hostility, support of terrorism and state violence are about to reverse, or even moderate? Vague, mealy-mouthed suggestions of a new benevolence, invariably followed by new assertions of eternal hostility, don’t get it done.

But playing America for a sucker works. Lots of countries do it. They understand the American “Success of the Talks” syndrome. Drag it out long enough and the stupid round-eyes start thinking that “no agreement” means failure, while any agreement spells success. The North Vietnamese were masters at this. The North Koreans still are.

The Iranians also know that “getting the Bomb” can be more useful, and safer, than having the Bomb. Iran’s already the dominant regional power. Removal of sanctions will augment that power immeasurably, while defusing a certain amount of domestic unhappiness. Once sanctions are gone, they won’t be coming back, and “The sanctions regime is already collapsing” is simply a way of decriminalizing dealing with criminals. Now everybody gets to do it, no penalties attached.

And — too bad so few people mention this — flooding the world with Iranian oil will depress an already glutted market and make it even harder to develop and sell renewable, sustainable energy technologies.

Presumably, Mr. Obama knows all this, and more. The President of the United States may be one of the most manipulated men in the world; he sits in the White House and all he knows is what people tell him. But Barack’s no dummy. If he’s marching open-eyed into catastrophe, alienating and endangering Israel, the Sunni oil states, the world, he must have some reason other than pure dementia, closet Islamism or “Manchurian Candidate” mental programming.

One possible reason might be called Wilsonian. In foreign affairs, Mr. Obama’s Presidency has been a near absolute failure. Like Woodrow Wilson clinging to his League of Nations in 1919-1920, the Iranian treaty might prove his historical redemption. And his oft-repeated notion of a “rules-based world,” so hauntingly similar to Mr. Wilson’s argument, as expressed in his war message of April 1917, that the same standards that apply to individuals must now apply to nations” . . .

But perhaps Mr. Obama has something else in mind, in its way even more deluded than making the world safe for democracy. To get at it, we look at an exercise usually amounting to little more than the making of lists of priorities and the naming of names.

Every administration produces a document called The National Security Strategy of the United States. Barack Obama’s came out in May 2010 and proved to be the standard palaver. We’re in favor of what’s good, against what’s bad, are mighty and revered, and must lead the world.

To coin a phrase: Yoda, Yoda, Yoda.

Now, the White House National Security Strategy generates (at least that’s the presumed paper flow) The National Military Strategy of the United States, produced by the Pentagon and dealing with the military component of the national security strategy. The first came out in February 2011 and, if nothing else, demonstrated the American military’s obsession with making lists and calling it strategy. Nothing too unusual here.

But then the Pentagon issued another National Military Strategy in June 2015. And this one proved a shocker.

In essence, it proclaims that the world’s Enemy Numero Uno is now Russia. Global Islamism is something that America, along with the oft-invoked “allies and partners” who follow us so joyously, will “deter, deny, degrade and ultimately defeat.” (Italics added).

The passage on Russia, the world’s worst “revisionist state,” is worth quoting in full:

“While Russia has contributed in select security areas, such as counter-narcotics and counterterrorism, it also has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms, including the UN Charter, Helsinki Accords, Russia-NATO Founding Act, Budapest Memorandum, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.”

In the next sentence, the document notes that:

“Iran also poses strategic challenges to the international community.”

And then, after a quickie list of Iranian misdeeds and a paragraph on North Korea, the document proclaims:

“We support China’s rise . . .” even though they’re not quite as benevolent as we might wish.

A few days later, in confirmation testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, both Mr. Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, and for vice chairman, Air Force General Paul Selva, reaffirmed that Russia was now the world’s pre-eminent bad guy.

Huh? Russia’s no paragon of civic or any other virtue. Mr. Putin doesn’t win (or enter) a lot of popularity contests, except perhaps among a lot of his own people. But . . . Public Enemy Number One, while Iran and the Isalmists expand their murderous savagery across the planet?

Ludicrous. As ludicrous as the pathetic measures undertaken to counter this existential threat to humanity. Freezing the assets of some of Mr. Putin’s pals. Cutting off American chickens. Other sillinesses and weak partial measures. My personal fave: America’ intention to store 250 or so military vehicles in “up to six countries.”  Whether ammunition, fuel and parts will also be stored . . . it seems unkind even to ask.

In sum: It grows ever more impossible to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Obama, along with the MICE (The Military-Industrial-Congressional Empire) and large sections of the punditry want Russia as an enemy, and are determined to bring it about.

Why?

Off next week for chemo. Please ponder why America has chosen to ignore the clear and present dangers of Islamism while joyously pissing off the Russkies.

P.S. When the Pentagon fails at something, its standard response is to change the acronym. Our Islamist foes are now VEO’s — Violent Extremist Organizations.

About the Author
Philip Gold made Aliyah from USA in 2010 after several decades as a Beltway "public intellectual" of sorts.
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