Loose Canons

Game of Fools

Rejection of Israel will bring loud results.

By 11.11.13

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President Obama's foreign policy record remains intact. Across the world from which he is withdrawing American power and influence, governments are recognizing that where once a superpower resided, now only a shadow remains.

First it was left to the Communist Chinese to admonish us against spending too much. Then they began a campaign to replace the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. The French led us into Libya because they needed to protect their oil interests there. Then Vladimir Putin bamboozled Obama into an agreement on Syria which goes against America interests by enabling Assad to remain in power while Iran flexes its muscles there. And that was after Putin suckered Obama into a new nuclear arms agreement that went against American interests and prior well-thought-out policies.

Now, Obama is eagerly chasing Iran, like a puppy chasing a ball, seeking an agreement that would relieve Iran of economic sanctions without doing anything to slow or stop Iran's march to nuclear weapons.

The agreement that Vichy John Kerry -- along with the rest of the UN Gang of Five Plus One -- was about to foist off on the world as a great achievement toward peace was one that would have benefitted only Iran and those nations that choose to trade with it (some in violation of U.S. and UN sanctions). It has now thankfully been torpedoed by, of all nations, France.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius -- not to be confused with American war-mad cowboys such as Ronald Reagan -- called the proposed deal with Iran a "fool's game."

Fabius was being too diplomatic. The deal engineered by Vichy John Kerry would have begun by relieving Iran of much of the economic sanctions that are burdening its economy. At the same time it would have accomplished precisely nothing to stop or even slow the Iranians' progress toward nuclear weapons.

You don't have to be a nuclear physicist to know that Iran has reached what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called the breakout point -- on which he drew a "red line" during his 2012 speech to the UN General Assembly -- which is critical to every nation unwilling to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. At least those who say so and really mean it, a group that may never have included the U.S.

Not to parse things too finely, the failed deal would not only have let Iran off on important sanctions, it would not have:

• limited in any way Iranian enrichment of uranium;

• required any change in the operation of Iran's Arak heavy water plant, which is busily engaged in making plutonium; or

• required any reduction of Iran's enriched uranium stockpile or even required it to reduce the level of enrichment of the already-enriched uranium. 

In that UN speech, Netanyahu warned that Iran would soon reach the point at which it could "break out" to produce nuclear weapons from enriched uranium so quickly that the western powers (a group that formerly included the United States) could not stop it.

Netanyahu argued then -- and in his UN speech two months ago -- that Israel would have to act to protect itself before Iran achieved nuclear weapons.

Just last month, Iran reached the "break out" point, its stockpile of enriched uranium sufficient that it could produce nuclear weapons within weeks. Netanyahu, last year, said that this was a "red line" across which Iran could not be allowed. (NB: The difference between Netanyahu's "red line" and Obama's regarding Syria is that the former is meant to be enforced.)

Now we are there, and President Obama is doing precisely nothing to stop Iran from breaking out and actually producing nuclear weapons. As Netanyahu predicted, the time has passed in which we could have enough warning of Iran's actions that we could have stopped it from taking them. That part of history is over.

Instead, Obama's eagerly seeking an agreement with Iran that can only result in it reaching its nuclear weapons goal.

France, not regularly confused by facts or clear thinking, has clearly saved the world from what Netanyahu called a "historic mistake." Obama's strategy -- or diplomacy or Iran policy or whatever you want to call it -- is revealed to be the sort of mistake that nations often make but few nations survive.

The media are reacting predictably, blaming France for being unreasonable while (as we'll get to in a minute) carefully burying the news of the historic U.S.-Israel split. Iran's President Rouhani is telling the French that their government is wasting valuable time and acting foolishly out of disrespect for Iran.

Rouhani has worked a first-order deception on Obama and some other faux-leaders. Rouhani and the Iranians have somehow convinced Obama that Rouhani is a moderate and his time in office cannot be allowed to expire without some ground-breaking peace agreement on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Surely, the next guy will be worse.

Nonsense. The fact is that Rouhani is as phony a moderate as Obama. That may be the reason that Obama fell for it. Add to that the fact that Rouhani is doggedly following the Putin model from the Syria agreement. Rouhani, moderate good guy that he is, has gulled Obama into thinking that Iran is no different from any other country and has to be treated with the trust and respect we'd accord, say, Canada. Truthfully, Obama can deal with Iran just as successfully as he dealt with Putin.

The only answer -- to Obama and Kerry -- is to find a scapegoat for their historic mistakes. And, just as the "bad apple" insurance companies are the only ones canceling healthcare insurance policies, it’s surely Israel's fault for scuppering the Iran agreement. 

Most people see and hear about these events from the media. But those who see don't observe: those who hear don't listen. And those who don't both listen and observe will realize that U.S.-Israeli relations are at an all-time low. Vichy Johnny scolded the Israelis recently for not being "serious" about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. And when Netanyahu labeled the Iran deal a very bad one, and lobbied the Gang of Five Plus One against it, Kerry and Obama found their scapegoat.

The Gang of Five Plus One -- having failed to reach a deal -- are going to try again on November 20. By then, Obama and Kerry hope, the French can be brought in line. They may be. With all the pressure Obama and Kerry can exert (along with Britain, Germany, Russia, and Germany), Fabius and French President Hollande can be expected to fold. And then what?

Iran is at the breakout point and could produce nuclear weapons within weeks, not months. Israel is, in John Kerry's words, isolated. More so than ever in its history. And if France folds its cards, Israel will have to act.

Obama's policies -- towards Iran and Israel both -- are pushing the world closer to war, not farther away. Israel is full of fractious political groups, but none of them can be blind to the fact that when it comes to Iran and its about-to-be-achieved nuclear ambitions, it is entirely alone. And it has been since about 1992.

Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all said again and again that Iran will not be permitted to have nuclear weapons. But with the exception of the Stuxnet computer worm attack, none of the three have done anything to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons.

We know Iran is working hard and may already have succeeded in designing the means of mating a deployable nuclear warhead to a missile. We also know that Iran is developing nuclear weapon triggers and has probably tested those mechanisms already. We know enough to make a decision, and so do the Israelis.

America has -- or at least Obama has -- decided that we will do nothing militarily to stop Iran from achieving nuclear weapons. There are no other means that can succeed. Israel -- after almost five years of Obama -- must have decided that it cannot rely on us to protect it from those weapons.

Israel's decision will be much harder but simpler. It cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran has told it as much by threatening to destroy the Israeli nation. The Israelis have to strike with all the guile and strategy they can muster to destroy or delay the Iranian nuclear sites because their lives depend on it.

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.