In an interview with the Today show’s Matt Lauer recorded on Superbowl Sunday, President Obama said that “Our preferred solution (to the Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear weapon) is diplomatic.” Although he also stated “we’re not taking any options off the table,” it’s hard to imagine the mullahs who rule Iran thinking that military action by the US has ever been on the table during this president’s administration.
So it’s hard to believe that Obama thinks he is accomplishing anything of significance with his Monday order to freeze all financial assets (which are under American control) of the Iranian government or Iranian banks.
A British attorney quoted in a Bloomberg News article on the policy shift said “It’s a declaration of economic warfare, to the extent that it’s not already been declared.” But do the mullahs actually care about “warfare” that doesn’t include weapons capable of destroying their uranium enrichment or missile production capabilities?
Iran might rattle some sabres regarding disrupting shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, but they probably won’t go far enough to start actual fighting because they know that as long as Obama feels like he’s doing something, or fooling people into believing he’s doing something, they can keep on working full-speed-ahead on a weapon intended to turn a major Israeli city into rubble. Furthermore, everybody talks about how much oil goes through that ocean passageway, but it must also be remembered that Iran is a large importer of gasoline. Thus interrupting shipping through the Strait would not be without major domestic economic and political consequences. The only reason they might pick a fight on the ocean is to rally internal support for their regime, creating the external enemy to blame for the nation’s problems. It’s a time-tested tactic, but one I doubt the mullahs will use.
David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, is also quoted by Bloomberg as saying that Obama’s move “should end any doubt about the president’s singular commitment to ensuring Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.” Actually, Harris has it exactly wrong. Obama’s move, while welcome, coming in the context of his reiteration that he wants and expects a diplomatic solution where it is increasingly obvious that none is possible, ends any doubt that the mullahs are laughing at the reign of Jimmy Carter II. The mullahs reaction will be “Obama just pulled the biggest weapon he’s actually willing to use. He is now toothless. We’ll pretend to be perturbed, but we feel little worse about this than Br’er Rabbit felt about being thrown into the briar patch.”
Their view is all the more accurate given this president’s internationalist mindset, wanting to use the UN for every hard decision, now that we have seen Russia and China defend the indefensible Bashar al Assad, the murderous dictator of Syria.
Barack Obama is out of his depth, and the world is a much more dangerous place for it. Israel is indeed, as Jed Babbin explained so well yesterday, sadly and perilously alone.