Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the Izod Ayatollah who, clad in a cool golf shirt, tan slacks and blue blazer, charms the media -- has offered to meet with President Obama when the two are in New York next month at the annual convening of the United Nations General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad said that the two should meet for a face-to-face televised debate. And why not? This is the Iranian "madman" who should be one of the characters in the "Mad Men" television series. He's so good at manipulating American liberals he clearly relishes the chance at doing it again, this time with Barry as his foil.
In 2006, A-jad had CBS's old Mike Wallace eating out of his hand and was mau-maued around New York a year later culminating in a televised speech hosted by Columbia University. Now, he wants to chum for another media frenzy that could raise himself to the Simon Cowell level of celebrity and further diminish the U.S. president, if that is even possible. Barry has shrunk so quickly, his feet may no longer touch the floor when he sits behind the big desk in the Oval Office.
And, sigh, Barry is indicating that he may meet with A-jad in September. Obama's National Security Advisor, Gen. James Jones, said that Obama may be willing to meet with A-jad if the Iranian kakistocracy indicates it is willing to negotiate with the UN's purblind nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, on Tehran's nuclear program. Negotiate, not stop, redirect or even agree in advance to international inspection of its disclosed nuclear sites far less those of which -- as was the uranium enrichment plant near Qom -- we don't know of.
If the meeting comes off, our Incredible Shrinking President will have surpassed Jimmy Carter in reducing America's ability to influence world events. Consider how he's being set up -- not only by his own missteps -- but by Iran and its closest allies.
Last week, KGB (er, Russian) President Vlad Putin's regime announced that the Iranian nuclear plant the Russians are building in Iran will go online by the end of this month. The Russian Lukoil firm discharged about 250,000 barrels of much-needed gasoline in Iran last week, and it will continue to ship gasoline to Iran, ensuring its economy will not be affected by the newest round of UN sanctions. China's Zhuhai Zhenrong state-run oil company is also continuing gasoline sales to Iran.
By pushing the Iranian project to completion and providing the gasoline Iran's economy must have, Putin is cornering Obama. What little leverage Obama might have had in a meeting with A-jad has evaporated. In any meeting with A-jad, Obama would be reduced to a supplicant.
Obama, like his predecessor, has utterly failed to stop Iran's interference in Iraq and Afghanistan. A year ago this month, Gen. Stanley McChrystal reported that unless the trend in Afghanistan were reversed within a year, we could face a situation in which defeating the Taliban was no longer possible.
And, in his last quarterly report to Congress submitted in April, McChrystal wrote that Iran's "lethal assistance" to the Taliban was "most concerning," and that "Iran's historical, cultural and economic ties with much of western Afghanistan, its religious affinity with Afghan minority groups, and its extensive border with Afghanistan will ensure that Tehran continues to attempt to influence events in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future."
Like any supplicant, Obama would have to have some face-saving result from such a meeting. What might A-jad offer that Obama's media could spin as a positive result? Lots.
Such as a "promise" from Ahmadinejad to "negotiate" with the IAEA on some future disclosures of Iran's nuclear work. Iran would buy more time for its development of nuclear weapons without having to actually disclose anything.
Or perhaps a "promise" from the Iranian to "help" stabilize Afghanistan. Iran has for years, in Afghanistan and Iraq, directly and indirectly taken the lives of American soldiers. Will Obama the supplicant even raise this issue with Ahmadinejad? If he does, the "concession" will be designed to help Obama spin his failed strategy in Afghanistan.
Those facts are more than enough to prevent any positive result from an Obama/A-jad meeting, but Obama's own actions further weaken his position going in.
Obama is apparently willing to swallow any bit of Islamic agitprop that appears on his plate. His endorsement of the Ground Zero mosque is just the latest example.
At a White House "iftar" dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Obama jumped into the Ground Zero mosque controversy, strongly endorsing the construction of an Islamic "community center" and mosque on the site where a big chunk of the landing gear from one of the airliners that struck the Twin Towers on 9-11 hit the ground.
Obama said, "I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground," adding: "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are."
But who we are is different from who Obama is. The Ground Zero zone is hallowed ground, and the public outcry at Obama's endorsement of the mosque there has him back pedaling fast. This is an argument we can win. There are at least 100 mosques already in New York City. There can be another, but not in the Ground Zero zone. Americans are justifiably outraged, and we can -- and should -- block this monument to the Islamist ideology just as we would block a memorial to the Japanese Shinto religion at Pearl Harbor.
Ahmadinejad -- and Putin, Hu Jintao and every other enemy we have -- see Obama's vulnerability to any claim made in the name of Islam and take advantage of it at every opportunity.
There is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, in an Obama-Ahmadinejad meeting. Iran is the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It must be defeated, not embraced by our Incredible Shrinking President.
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