The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Obama the Appeaser
According to Obama at an Oregon rally, Iran does not "pose a serious threat" to the United States. His reasoning is as disturbing--or more so--than his conclusion. Obama explained that Iran has less to spend on defense and if it "tried to pose a serious threat to us they wouldn't . . . stand a chance."
We can now feel secure that the Iranians won't load their soldiers onto landing craft and storm the New Jersey beaches. Unfortunately, that isn't their military strategy. Perhaps Obama doesn't understand that the average B-1 bomber costs less than a suicide bomber. Has he heard about asymmetric warfare?
Forget that. Has he heard of terrorism, the Marine barracks' bombing, or September 11?
According to Obama:
"Iran they spend one one-hundredth of what we spend on the military. I mean if Iran tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn't mean we agree with them on everything. That doesn't, we might not compromise with them on any issues. But, at least we should find out are there areas of potential common interest and we can reduce some of the tension that have caused us so many problems around the world."
One cannot pretend away the implications of this paragraph. Let's list them:
- No understanding that Iran follows strategies designed to circumvent that problem of unequal power including terrorism, guerrilla war, deniable attacks, long wars of attrition, the use of surrogates, and so on.
- The only way Obama sees for using the U.S. "position of strength" is to listen to their grievances, as if we are not familiar with them. In short, the only thing you can do when stronger is to get weaker. Presumably the same applies when you are the weaker party.
- Why is he so totally unaware that dialogue has been tried? A decade with the PLO, longer with Hizballah by other Lebanese, four straight years of European engagement with Tehran over the nuclear issue, multiple U.S. delegations to talk with the Syrians, and so on. Was nothing learned from this experience?
- And what happens afterward if Obama's dialogue doesn't work? What cards would he have left? What readiness to try another course? Perhaps by then the Iranians will have nuclear weapons and other gains negating that "position of strength" so fecklessly frittered away.
- What possible issues can the United States find to compromise with Iran? Let's say: give them Lebanon (oh, we already did that); ignore their sponsorship of terrorism; give them Iraq; give them Israel; withdraw U.S. forces from the region, accept their having nuclear arms. What?
- Why should the United States be able to reduce tensions through negotiations when Iran wants tensions? There is an important hint here: if the United States makes concessions it might buy off tensions. Since Iran and the others know about Obama's all-carrots-no-sticks worldview, they will make him pay a lot to get the illusion of peace and quiet.
- There is no hint, not the slightest, of his understanding the option of using power to intimidate or defeat Iran, or as a way to muster allies. If Obama had the most minimal comprehension of these issues, he would fake it with some blah-blah about how America would combine toughness with flexibility, deterrence with compromise, steadfastness in order to gain more from the other side in negotiations.Â A critical element in peace-keeping, peace-making, and negotiations is to act tough and be strong in order to have leverage. Even in responding to criticisms, Obama has only talked about whether negotiations are conditional or unconditional and at what level they should be conducted. He is oblivious to the fact that the chief executive does things other than negotiations.
- If this is Obama's strategy while Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons what would he do in dealing with a Tehran owning them?
Make no mistake, Obama is channelling Neville Chamberlain--precisely because what he says shows his parallel thinking. Many people may get a chill listening to Obama but it certainly isn't a Churchill. Apologists, sympathizers, and wishful-thinkers keep endowing this would-be emperor with beautiful suits of clothes. He doesn't have any.
And at present, even more if Obama wins, the threat is of an Iran that's aggressive precisely because it knows that it will not have to confront U.S. forces. Tehran knows that it can sponsor terrorism directly against U.S. forces in Iraq, and also against Israel and Lebanon, because that level of assault will not trigger American reaction.