Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obama's "Space", "Flexibility", and Concessions in Relation to Syria During an Election Year: "Iran has won the round and Russia was its accomplice”

Last week, John Vinocur asked the French defense minister how he now would describe the circumstances in Syria.
[Gérard Longuet's] frankness was startling: “Iran has won the round and Russia was its accomplice.”

… As little as a month ago, the Obama administration was talking about the imminent departure of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s leader. His ouster would have been a vast blow to Iran, which regards Assad as its closest ally and buffer.

But the West buckled in the face of Russian and Chinese resistance, withdrawing its U.N. Security Council draft resolution that demanded that Assad leave and that Russia halt its supply of arms to Syria. No substantive Western action followed. Assad remains. This is a terrible precedent.
The most conservative commentator working for the New York Times has a column in the International Herald Tribune that is far from optimistic and that can be called another pronouncement on Barack Obama's Smart Diplomacy as well as on the O's subsuming all initiatives, foreign as well as domestic, to that most important of measures for the American nation, Obama's campaign for a second term.
Bad news: the Obama administration and the West hold a lousy hand as they go into talks with Iran.

In a world of dreams and miracles, the conversations, starting Saturday, would end with the mullahs renouncing their drive toward nuclear weapons, and the disappearance of a thunderhead of foreboding and grief.

Reality says otherwise, three ways.

It demonstrates that the Iranians are emboldened by the West’s backing off in Syria. It acknowledges that some of the allies have serious concerns about Barack Obama’s willingness to make concessions and stretch out the talks, playing for time, Iranian-style, until after the U.S. presidential election. And it imposes the conclusion that there is no visible way these so-called confidence building exchanges (don’t call them negotiations) can produce confidence solid enough for the United States, Britain, France and Germany to believe that Iran is willing to cast aside the nuclear military program they accuse it of running.

the Obama administration has left its European counterparts with a virtual certainty: that it wants the talks to extend until Election Day, Nov. 4. This is based on the flimsy premise that Israel will be reluctant to strike Iran as long as the talks continue.

Yet the administration’s approach to the conversations does not include a clear exit strategy, which intensifies the likelihood of their dawdling futility.

The French, in this context, are describing themselves as “guardians of the temple,” meaning that they have suspicions of U.S. concessions that would bend or skirt the Security Council’s requirements for the mullahs to prove their total disengagement from pursuing nukes. (Think, in the worst case, of a triangular deal with Russia and Iran reflecting Mr. Obama’s on-mike appeal to Vladimir Putin for “space” in exchange for “flexibility” on missile defense.)