By Peter Ferrara on 9.30.09 @ 6:08AM
A cherished maxim of self-congratulatory liberals is the notion that diplomacy and negotiation are always the best course of action because “as long as the two sides are talking, they are not shooting.” That was not true on the morning of December 7, 1941. On that very day, Japanese diplomats were in Washington to continue ongoing talks for peace between Japan and America, as Japanese planes were slaughtering some 2,400 American servicemen at Pearl Harbor.
President Obama now has America, and Israel, on that same course in regard to Iran. Finally, Obama is to begin his much ballyhooed talks with Iran tomorrow over its nuclear weapons program. But Iran, not just dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has already clearly stated its answer to Obama’s entreaties on the issue. Iran will not even consider changing course on its nuclear weapons program. Indeed, it has insisted it will not even discuss the program in its talks with President Obama. To underscore the futility of any negotiations, Iran celebrated this week’s planned talks with a series of missile launches over the weekend.
These extended talks will just give Iran even more time to develop nuclear weapons, and the missiles to deliver them. An American President should have the moxie and insight to see that. If we wake up one morning, surprised as we were on that fateful day in 1941, to find that Iran has nuked an Israeli city and murdered millions of Jews, I would expect President Obama to resign in disgrace.
What else could he do at that point? He is not going to launch a nuclear attack on Iran. And once Iran demonstrates that it has and will use nuclear weapons, is Obama going to risk a conventional attack on them? No, he is just going to give another speech. But will anyone be listening at that point, in the face of the carnage of the Israeli nuclear counterattack on Iran? This bloodiest day in world history, Holocaust 2.0, is what Obama must be acting to avoid now, through effective means, not dreamy, flower child platitudes.
America’s Nuclear Disarmament
Last week, Obama enjoyed the honor of being the first American President to chair a session of the U.N. Security Council. Obama devoted the session to the topic of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. But, as Bret Stephens explained last week in the Wall Street Journal, “[L]est anyone suspect that this has something to do with North Korea and Iran, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice insists otherwise: The meeting, she says, ‘will focus on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any particular countries.’”
Obama made his point clear in his speech to the General Assembly on September 24, saying, “I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.” He added that America has already begun its own nuclear disarmament:
In Moscow, the United States and Russia announced that we would pursue substantial reductions in our strategic warheads and launchers. At the Conference on Disarmament, we agreed on a work plan to negotiate an end to the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. And this week, my Secretary of State will become the first senior American representative to the annual Members Conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
In other words, on a global platform, with the whole world watching, Obama focuses not on the threat to world peace from the rogue powers Iran and North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons, but on the nuclear disarmament of America and its allies!
As Stephens further explained:
But the problem with this euphemistic approach to disarmament…is that it shifts the onus from the countries that can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons to those that can. Is Nicolas Sarkozy…about to start World War III? Probably not, though he has the means to do so. Should Mr. Obama join hands with Iran and the Arab world in pushing for Israel’s nuclear disarmament, on the view that if only the Jewish state would set the right example its enemies would no longer want to wipe it off the map? If that’s what the President believes, he should say so publicly, especially since he’s offering the same general prescription for America’s nuclear deterrent.
What Stephens is suggesting here is the awful truth. Obama believes that America does not have the moral credibility to ask Iran to give up its nuclear program unless America gives up its own. His strategy is once again the opposite of Reagan’s. Instead of peace through strength, Obama believes in peace through weakness!
If only America would set the moral example through nuclear disarmament, we could count on our enemies to do the same, Obama thinks. Instead of fulfilling his oath of office to defend America, President Obama with his flower child nuclear strategy puts every American family in mortal danger.
Even if we could achieve worldwide nuclear disarmament by mutual agreement, that would not be good for America. America’s nuclear deterrent has prevented world war for 65 years. Our overwhelming nuclear advantage, which President Obama and the Democrats are already trashing, is the cornerstone of our dominant military. It is the reason Americans never have to fear for the nation’s defense. Giving that up would only weaken America, greatly, even if everybody else did the same.
But in a dangerous world of aspiring tyrants, plunderers, and even mass murderers, we could not count on rogues to abide by international agreements. Could we count on Putin not to maintain a force of nuclear attack weapons hidden in Siberia or Ural mountain caves, especially if he would become master of the universe through such cheating? Could we trust the Communist Chinese, with a recent history of mass murder, not to do the same? What about Muslim powers aching to reestablish their former dominance of centuries ago, especially with an ideology of mass murder rampant among their ranks? Would it be wise to trust the safety of the American people to the honesty of such rogues, or to the reliability of any verification program?
And without the American nuclear umbrella, would not the whole world be on hair trigger for nuclear development, lest anyone’s enemies secretly develop such weapons first? Would America end up the only “power” without a nuclear deterrent?
Yet, Mark Helprin writes in the Journal on September 23 that Obama’s talks with Iran will be about America’s nuclear disarmament, not Iran’s:
Last fall, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set three conditions for [negotiations with] the U.S.: withdrawal from Iraq, a show of respect for Iran (read “apology”), and taking the nuclear question off the table. We are now faithfully complying, and last week, after Iran foreclosed discussion of its nuclear program…the U.S. agreed to enter talks the premise of which, incredibly, is to eliminate American nuclear weapons.
If only Obama last year, when he was falsely preening as the only American leader to even think of talking to Iran, had told the American people that his strategy for talks with Iran on giving up its nukes was for America to give up ours.
Putin in Charge
The hapless ineffectuality of President Obama’s foreign policy is revealed by his retreat on land based missile defense in Europe. After governments in Poland and the Czech Republic faced down the political risks of agreeing to work with America to base such missile defenses in their countries, President Obama pulls the rug out from under them with the diplomatic equivalent of “never mind.”
The Obama Administration lamely claimed that it would pursue instead a smarter missile defense from U.S. Navy ships that would be even better at countering the shorter range missiles that are supposedly the real Iranian threat. Helprin explains the ineffectiveness of this approach:
We will cease developing the ability to intercept, within five years, the ICBMs that in five years Iran is likely to possess, in favor of a sea-based approach suitable only to [countering] Iranian missiles that cannot from Iranian soil threaten Rome, Paris, London or Berlin….Interceptors that would effectively [protect] Western Europe are too big for the vertical launch cells of the Aegis ships, or even their hulls.
Indeed, the land-based missile defenses in Europe that President Obama has canceled would have defended not only Europe from long range Iranian nuclear missiles, it would have defended America as well. But the “smarter” sea based defenses Obama says he will now pursue will not.
President Obama retreated from missile defenses in Europe because Russia growled that such defenses could be used to stop its own nuclear attack on Europe, and somehow that was unacceptable and offensive. Obama’s retreat is again just the opposite of Reagan, who stared down the same growls from the Russian bear in the early 1980s to plant in Europe Pershing II missiles that could attack Russia and its forces, not merely defend. Reagan’s wise fortitude led to an agreement with Russia for both sides to remove their intermediate range missiles from Europe. President Obama doesn’t understand that kind of strength.
Instead, in return for his retreat on European missile defense, Obama did not even get the Russians to agree to serious sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. As Stephens wrote in the Journal, “Moscow is still offering no concessions on sanctioning Iran in the event negotiations fail, but might graciously agree to an arms control deal that cements its four to one advantage in tactical nuclear weapons.” Helprin adds:
The new American diplomacy is nothing more than a sentimental flood of unilateral concessions….Canceling the missile deployment within NATO…is to grant Russia a veto over sovereign defensive measures — exactly the opposite of American resolve during the Euro Missile Crisis of 1983, the last and definitive battle of the Cold War.
The CIA Investigation We Need
Recall the so-called National Intelligence Estimate of 2007, which reported that Iran had stopped its nuclear program in 2003. That was effective in short-circuiting any military action under then President Bush to take out the Iranian nuclear program. With recent events, the question that 2007 report leaves is whether U.S. intelligence agencies have been penetrated by foreign agents.
The CIA investigation we need now is to focus on that question, not on whether the CIA was too mean to terrorists plotting mass murder of Americans. If that investigation uncovers treason, then the law must be enforced. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, call your office.
This CIA investigation would strengthen rather than weaken America’s defenses, by purging foreign agents from our intelligence agencies.
President Bush showed how to stop a rogue nuclear program. U.S. military action forcefully removing Saddam Hussein from power so frightened Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi that he voluntarily revealed and relinquished his own nuclear program, financed by Iraqi funds. That led to the discovery and shut down of the nuclear proliferation network of Pakistani A.Q. Khan. We can only dream of President Obama ever being that effective.
Eliot Cohen, formerly of the State Department, now teaches at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He wrote quite correctly in the Wall Street Journal on Monday regarding the Iranian regime, “This is a corrupt, fanatical, ruthless, unprincipled regime…willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power. With such a regime, no real negotiation based on understandings of mutual interest and respect…is possible.” Regarding sanctions, he writes:
Though you would not know it to listen to Sunday talk shows, a large sanctions effort against Iran has been underway for some time. It has not worked to curb Tehran’s nuclear appetite, and it will not. Sooner or later, the administration, whose main diplomatic initiatives thus far have been a program of apologies and a few sharp kicks to small allies’ shins, will have to recognize that fact.
Finally, Cohen writes that if Iran succeeds in building nukes, “It will engender — it has already quietly engendered — a nuclear arms race in the region. It will embolden the Iranian regime to make much more lethal mischief than it has even now. In a region that respects strength, it will enhance…Iranian prestige. And it may yield the first nuclear attack some time down the road.”
Indeed, in my opinion, the fanatical Iranian mullahs are not daring the whole world in building such weapons only to not use them. If nuclear blackmail does not force the Jews out, a nuclear attack will.
The only way to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is through a policy of regime change. President Obama has openly disdained all such talk, but the policy of the United States must be focused on doing everything possible and effective to remove the brutal regime of mass murderers now governing Iran. We should immediately engage whoever will work with us to cut off all supplies that can be used militarily in that country, including gasoline. We should provide money, arms, and radio station facilities to the rebels. And, yes, we should conduct military strikes not only against the nuclear facilities, but against all military capabilities useful against the rebels. Iran will retaliate, you say? Our diplomatic message should be that such retaliation will be met with decapitation of the government, including turning the Holy City of Qom housing the Grand Ayatollah Khatami into an archeological site.
If Obama insists on holding hands and singing Kumbaya instead, then he should be held fully accountable for the results.
Peter Ferrara is director of entitlement and budget policy at the Institute for Policy Innovation, and general counsel of the American Civil Rights Union. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the first President Bush. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.