Remember that Obama promised a new kind of foreign policy. No more cowboy Bush alienating friends and making problems worse. Obama was going to succeed in dealing with Iran where Bush had failed. Soft power was the key. Just like hope and change, it was all a mirage.
Obama lived up to his word. He opened negotiations with Iran and found it difficult to criticize the Iranian regime even as it murdered it's citizens in the streets last year. Who can forget the horror as we watched Neda Soltan bleed to death [graphic video] after being shot on the periphery of an anti-government protest. The protesters called out "Obama are you with us or with them?" Obama thought that by staying out of it he would curry favor with the mad Mullahs. Instead he curried their contempt.
Iran has continued to thumb it's nose at Obama's peace offerings and instead seems hell bent on developing nuclear weapons and is actively engaged in a thus far successful campaign to build alliances with U.S. friends and strategic competitors. On the chessboard of International Relations, Obama finds himself losing pieces.
Even reporters at the Washtingon Post have begun to notice Obama's failure. In an extraordinary article on Wednesay, the headline was "A resilient Iran shields itself from pressure by building alliances." An excerpt:
A year ago, Iran was on its way to becoming a pariah state. Dozens of governments accused Iranian leaders of stealing the presidential election and condemned the brutal crackdown on protesters that followed. The country faced sanctions and international scorn over its controversial nuclear program.Obama's "mistakes" are making Iran stronger, not weaker and certainly not more isolated.
Now, even as the U.N. Security Council prepares to impose its fourth round of sanctions on Iran with a vote slated for Wednesday, Tehran is demonstrating remarkable resilience, insulating some of its most crucial industries from U.S.-backed financial restrictions and building a formidable diplomatic network that should help it withstand some of the pressure from the West. Iranian leaders are meeting politicians in world capitals from Tokyo to Brussels. They are also signing game-changing energy deals, increasing their economic self-sufficiency and even gaining seats on international bodies.
Iran's ability to navigate such a perilous diplomatic course, analysts say, reflects both Iranian savvy and U.S. shortcomings as up-and-coming global players attempt to challenge U.S. supremacy, and look to Iran as a useful instrument.
"We are very proud of our diplomacy, although we are mainly benefiting from mistakes made by the United States and its allies," said Kazem Jalali, a key member of the Iranian parliament's commission on national security and foreign policy. "We are using all our resources to exploit these weaknesses."
Charles Krauthammer takes up the theme:
Obama's foreign policy is a disaster waiting to happen. And unlike the environmental disaster in the Gulf, Obama's foreign policy disaster will be measured in blood not oil!
The myth of Iran's 'isolation'
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, June 11, 2010
In announcing the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, President Obama stressed not once but twice Iran's increasing "isolation" from the world. This claim is not surprising considering that after 16 months of an "extended hand" policy, in response to which Iran accelerated its nuclear program -- more centrifuges, more enrichment sites, higher enrichment levels -- Iranian "isolation" is about the only achievement to which the administration can even plausibly lay claim.
"Isolation" may have failed to deflect Iran's nuclear ambitions, but it does enjoy incessant repetition by the administration. For example, in his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated." Two months later, Vice President Biden asserted that "since our administration has come to power, I would point out that Iran is more isolated -- internally, externally -- has fewer friends in the world." At the signing of the START treaty in April, Obama declared that "those nations that refuse to meet their obligations [to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, i.e., Iran] will be isolated."
Really? On Tuesday, one day before the president touted passage of a surpassingly weak U.N. resolution and declared Iran yet more isolated, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered at a security summit in Istanbul "in a display of regional power that appeared to be calculated to test the United States," as the New York Times put it. I would add: And calculated to demonstrate the hollowness of U.S. claims of Iranian isolation, to flaunt Iran's growing ties with Russia and quasi-alliance with Turkey, a NATO member no less.
Apart from the fact that isolation is hardly an end in itself and is pointless if, regardless, Iran rushes headlong to become a nuclear power, the very claim of Iran's increasing isolation is increasingly implausible. Just last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted an ostentatious love fest in Tehran with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil. The three raised hands together and announced a uranium transfer deal that was designed to torpedo U.S. attempts to impose U.N. sanctions.
Increasing isolation? In the past year alone, Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Kabul, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Caracas, Brasilia, La Paz, Senegal, Gambia and Uganda. Today, he is in China.
Three Iran sanctions resolutions passed in the Bush years. They were all passed without a single "no" vote. But after 16 months of laboring to produce a mouse, Obama garnered only 12 votes for his sorry sanctions, with Lebanon abstaining and Turkey and Brazil voting against.
From the beginning, the Obama strategy toward Iran and other rogue states had been to offer goodwill and concessions on the premise that this would lead to one of two outcomes: (a) the other side changes policy, or (b) if not, the world isolates the offending state and rallies around us -- now that we have demonstrated last-mile good intentions.
Hence, nearly a year and a half of peace overtures, negotiation, concessions, two New Year's messages to the Iranian people, a bit of groveling about U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup and a disgraceful silence when the regime's very stability was threatened by peaceful demonstrators.
Iran's response? Defiance, contempt and an acceleration of its nuclear program.
And the world's response? Did it rally behind us? The Russians and Chinese bargained furiously and successfully to hollow out the sanctions resolution. Turkey is openly choosing sides with the region's "strong horse" -- Iran and its clients (Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas) -- as it watches the United States flailingly try to placate Syria and appease Iran while it pressures Israel, neglects Lebanon and draws down its power in the region.
To say nothing of Brazil. Et tu, Lula?
This comes after 16 months of assiduously courting these powers with one conciliatory gesture after another: "resetting" relations with Russia, kowtowing to China, lavishing a two-day visit on Turkey highlighted by a speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara, and elevating Brazil by supplanting the G-8 with the G-20. All this has been read as American weakness, evidence that Obama can be rolled.
The result is succinctly, if understatedly, captured in Wednesday's Post headline "U.S. alliance against Iran is showing new signs of vulnerability."