US President Barack Obama’s West Point foreign policy speech has given Israel both good and bad news.
The good news for Israel is that the president has given up on the idea of achieving a so-called “peace” deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, but the bad news is that Obama has no intention of ever attacking the Iranian nuclear program militarily even as a last resort, and will never support an Israeli attack.
Consequently, ongoing useless and endless negotiations, as well as meaningless diplomatic agreements, will lead to a nuclear Iran unless it is stopped by Israel or the US congress.
Obama’s commencement speech outlining his foreign policy doctrine confirmed at last what Israel and the Gulf states – as well as Iran – have all suspected, that the president was bluffing when he repeatedly stated that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon including the military option.
He has used the idea of such an attack as a bargaining chip against the Israeli prime minister who perceives protecting the Jewish state against a nuclear holocaust by Iran to be his ultimate responsibility. He has been bluffing to woo and pressure Israel to make major concessions to the Palestinians in any peace deal. But when he recently realized that there is no chance for any major breakthrough between Israelis and the Palestinians during his presidency, he showed his hand at last regarding Iran.
The fact that in his West Point speech Obama chose not to even mention the so-called “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians marks quite a telling departure for this president who told the UN General Assembly last September, as he outlined US foreign policy priorities during the remainder of his presidency, that “America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab Israeli conflict.”
But the fact that Obama in his speech chose to base his future foreign policy doctrine on his personal aversion to military solutions, actions and the use of military force after a decade of US wars, has reassured Iran that his military threats against them have never been credible.
In the Middle East, which houses the most brutal dictators in the world, perception of the use of power is more important than having the power. Tyrants only change their behavior if they believe you will use your power against them.
After such a speech, Iran and others will perceive the US as a paper tiger. The only time Iran suspended its nuclear programwas 2003, after the US invaded their next door neighbor Iraq because the ayatollah truly believed President Bush‘s warnings that it will be attacked next.
But in his speech, Obama highlighted the fact that under his watch all US troops were removed from Iraq and that those remaining in Afghanistan would soon be removed. He talked repeatedly about America’s “costly wars” and that “not every problem has a military solution” and that “some of our costly mistakes came…from our willingness to rush into military adventures,” as well as that “US military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership.”
When the president specifically discussed Iran, he stated, “And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable than we could have achieved through the use of force.”
Unfortunately, reality shows that Obama is deluding himself. For the first time in a decade the Iranians know that they can achieve their nuclear capability without paying a price, as long as they are making believe they are truly negotiating.
The Iranians have already witnessed Obama’s desperate concessions to induce them to engage in these negotiations. In exchange for Iran agreeing to six months negotiations with the six major powers over their nuclear program, Obama conceded them the right to continue enriching uranium while lifting many of the economic sanctions which brought Iran almost to its knees economically.
Moreover, Obama fought hard to convince the pro-Israel Senate, including many Democrats, to shelf the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill, which is the legislative threat of imposing additional crippling economic sanctions against Iran if the negotiations fail.
The July 20 deadline for the six months talk is approaching and the gap between Western and Iranian demands is evidently unbridgeable. However, it seems that Obama and the Western powers have already agreed that the deadline could be extended by a further six months.
The only way Iran will not have a nuclear weapon is if they agree to shut down their uranium enriching underground military reactor at Fordo, remove 15,000 centrifuges, downgrade the reactor at its plutonium production facility at Arak, and export its entire stockpile of enriched uranium, which can produce a few bombs.
Of course, the Iranians will never agree to such conditions if they stop believing in the credible threat of a military attack.
On Wednesday, in his first public reaction to Obama’s West Point speech, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, asserted in an address to the country’s political and military establishment that the Obama administration had taken the option of a military intervention to resolve conflicts off the table, saying: “A military attack is not a priority for Americans now. They have renounced the idea of any military actions.”
However, the Iranians should not forget that Israel destroyed both the Iraqi and the Syrian nuclear programs alone, without getting US permission or assistance.