Last night, President Obama put on a bizarre display of self-satisfaction: after six years of my enlightened leadership, all’s well at home and abroad! Would that it were so. In foreign policy, one of Obama’s main areas of delusion was Iran:
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.
But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. (Applause.) The American people expect us only to go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
None of this is even remotely close to being true, as we have reported on many occasions. Iran is making steady progress toward a military nuclear capability, seemingly with Obama’s blessing. The Israel Project debunks Obama’s claims:
For over a year the [Obama] administration has claimed, falsely, that Iran’s nuclear program has been “frozen” and their “progress halted” during the talks — talks we were told would only last 6 months, yet are now heading toward 19 months (June 30th).
Far from being “halted,” during the negotiations Iran has enriched at least one more bomb’s worth of material, has advanced its plutonium track to 87% completion, and just announced it will build two more nuclear facilities. Does that sound “frozen” to you? Not to mention other facts that contradict White House claims.
Tonight the President has threatened, again, to veto bipartisan legislation from Menendez-Kirk by implying FALSELY that (1) it contains sanctions on Iran at this time and (2) will guarantee diplomacy will fail. Those are ridiculous claims. First, the bill imposes no sanctions on Iran during talks whatsoever. If there is a deal by 6/30 — a deadline the president set and says will tell us if Iran is willing to make a deal or not — there are no sanctions.
Second, it is totally counter-intuitive to suggest that Iran will walk away from nuclear talks it desperately needs to save its broken economy because of some sanctions that will never come into being if there is an agreement — which they claim they want.
All of that is rather obviously true. But it charitably omits an important point: Obama’s suggestion that imposing sanctions in the wake of failed negotiations constitutes “going to war” is beneath contempt, even for a politician.
While Obama was patting himself on the back, events around the world were refusing to cooperate. The president cited Ukraine as an example of his administration’s successful diplomacy:
Second, we’re demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. (Applause.)
That may have been good enough to fool Democrats in the audience, but it certainly didn’t fool any Ukrainians. Russian aggression is succeeding:
Intensifying battles, mounting death tolls and new accusations of Russian interference in eastern Ukraine have marked some of the worst fighting between government troops and pro-Russian separatists since last summer, rendering a months-old cease-fire agreement effectively defunct.
The two sides have been trading heavy fire at the Donetsk airport, a prize that, though more symbolic than strategic, has been at the center of punishing recent attacks that have reduced much of the facility to rubble. Each side has claimed control of the airport at various points, and militia and army fighters there continued to launch strikes against each other over the past several days.
The Ukrainian army was attacked by “regular military formations” of the Russian army, Col. Andriy Lysenko, the Ukrainian military spokesman, said Tuesday. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said Monday that Russia had sent “two battalions” — about 800 soldiers — across the border. Lysenko added Tuesday that three more battalions had approached the Russia-Ukraine border from the Russian side.
If you didn’t know better, you might almost think that no one fears Obama’s embarrassingly titled “smart diplomacy.”
Then there is Yemen, which we wrote about yesterday, here and here. Yemen is an an important ally of the U.S., but its government hasn’t been able to defend the president’s residence against Shia rebels, and his chief of staff has been taken prisoner. For the moment, an accommodation may have been reached, but al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is waiting in the wings, the situation is volatile at best, and Navy vessels have steamed toward Yemen to evacuate the American embassy if necessary.
Barack Obama must love State of the Union speeches: once a year, he can describe the world as he wishes it were, and newspapers will report on it as though he were not delusional.