Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is Obama preventing another war?

I talked the other day about the danger of either/or thinking. As people celebrate or critique "Obama the warrior" on the anniversary of killing Osama bin Laden, I think its important to also discuss the fact that his diplomatic efforts are having some success in preventing war with Iran.
After a winter of alarm over the possibility that a military conflict over the Iranian nuclear program might be imminent, American officials and outside analysts now believe that the chances of war in the near future have significantly decreased.

They cite a series of factors that, for now, argue against a conflict. The threat of tighter economic sanctions has prompted the Iranians to try more flexible tactics in their dealings with the United States and other powers, while the revival of direct negotiations has tempered the most inflammatory talk on all sides.

A growing divide in Israel between political leaders and military and intelligence officials over the wisdom of attacking Iran has begun to surface.
Let's remind ourselves that President Obama laid out his strategy on this one two months ago in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.
It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran's military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that...

...we have a sanctions architecture that is far more effective than anybody anticipated; that we have a world that is about as united as you get behind the sanctions; that our assessment, which is shared by the Israelis, is that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt.

In that context, our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily. And the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table. That's what happened in Libya, that's what happened in South Africa. And we think that, without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested. They recognize that they are in a bad, bad place right now. It is possible for them to make a strategic calculation that, at minimum, pushes much further to the right whatever potential breakout capacity they may have, and that may turn out to be the best decision for Israel's security.
There's the negotiator AND fighter on display. And so far...its working.

1 comment:

  1. I am aware that I might be too blase about the subject, but I have been convinced that war with Iran has been unlikely since at minimum 2005. It's true that Cheney likely if he had his druthers would have had us in there, but I am convinced that Rice and GW Bush were not so far gone that they imagined an invasion would work, what with Iraq and Afghanistan total clusterf%#$s. I think Cheney and his crew were and are sick and delusional. I think GW Bush and Rice are merely sick.

    What Obama is actually in the process of doing is coming to some sort of better resolution of the situation. There was no way anything positive would happen under Bush (or McCain, or I would even say a Clinton) but only degrees of negativity. Obama can actually cut deals that mean something.

    In terms of foreign policy it is fairly clear to me that the President's biggest concern, personally, is nukes. He thinks they are bad, and he's right. Nukes are way off the press' agenda, and so people don't talk about them as much, but they remain the single most dangerous thing our species has come up with. This is one of the advantages of having him as a President that gets too little attention.

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