Michael Rubin explains why Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was almost certainly unimpressed by President Obama’s statements this week about how he intends to deal with Iran. Obama stated that he will soon present “what I believe will be a persuasive argument” that Iran should change course, and that we should know by the end of the year how Iran intends to proceed.
Rubin responds that “while Obama is a gifted speaker, this is one situation in which rhetorical three-card monte falls flat” (how do you say “false choices” in Farsi). As to Obama’s implication that he will not persist with his diplomacy absent progress by the end of the year, Rubin sees little to take seriously here. First:
While Obama made headlines with his timeline, on May 14, 2009, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly declared, “There is no deadline for talks.” So long as the Obama administration does not speak with one voice, it will lack credibility.
Obama has provided no metric by which to judge progress. If there is a 1 percent chance that talks might advance, will Obama grant a 90-day extension? Indeed, it was this exact diplomatic pattern which enabled North Korea to go nuclear.
U.S. authorities are negotiating with representatives of Iran’s foreign ministry. Iranian diplomats have no more sway over Iran’s nuclear program than would diplomats from Malawi.
In short, as I suggested yesterday, Obama has done very little to assuage Israel’s legitimate concerns about Iran.