The intersection of cynicism and animus

It has been clear all along the President Obama does not intend to take meaningful action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In fairness, though, it must be added that President Bush never took any such action either. And, unlike Obama, Bush probably cared about the issue.

The main difference between Bush and Obama when it comes to Iran is Obama’s skill in constructing excuses for inaction. One ready-made excuse is the Iranian election to be held later this year. Obama can plausibly argue that it makes sense to wait for these elections and then deal with the winner. Moreover, as Jonathan Tobin points out, if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is defeated by another candidate (albeit one pre-approved, as almost certainly would be the case, by the ayatollahs), Obama can proclaim that the emergence of this “moderate” leader obviates any threat to Israel and any need to confront Iran.

But Obama isn’t relying just on the hope that Ahmadinejad is defeated. As Tobin explains, Obama also intends to make Israel, which until now has been viewed as a major reason for dealing with the Iranaian threat, into his excuse for ignoring it.

This strategy was in evidence this week when Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoelle called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The idea is (a) to shift attention away from Iranian nukes to Israeli nukes and (b) to promote an inference of moral equivalence (Obama can’t make the argument explicitly) under which Iran’s possession of nukes seems reasonable enough. Never mind that Iran favors the elimination of Israel, while Israel has never questioned Iran’s right to exist.

Even more cyncially, Obama apparently intends to make the “Palestinian track” a higher priority than the Iranian track issue. His absurd pretext is that only if the Palestinians get their state will Obama, Europe and the grateful Arab world be able to pressure Iran into abadoning its nuclear program. By giving himself a pass on dealing meaningfully with Iran until such time as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is resolved, Obama virtually guarantees that he will never have to tackle Iran.

As I say, there is plenty of cynicism here. But I doubt that cynicism is the only force at play. I suspect that, like his spiritual mentor Jeremiah Wright (though of course not nearly to the same degree) and like much of the American left from which he springs, Obama, while entirely indifferent about Iran, affirmatively dislikes Israel.

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