President Obama addressed the United Nations today. It’s a fool’s errand if you think about it, and Obama’s remarks were duly foolish.
He began by assuring the world of America’s near-pacifism and lack of seriousness when it comes to fighting terrorism. Obama cited our retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, new limitations on the use of drones, and his “diligent” work to close Gitmo. The world already understands how ineffectual you are, Mr. President. There’s no need to embarrass yourself by reminding folks that, after five years, the Gitmo prison is still up and running.
Obama’s Syria policy is so unserious that he correctly perceived a need to risk the embarrassment of talking about it. Obama assured his audience that he had always favored a negotiated solution to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Thus, as Scott says, ’twas a famous victory Obama achieved. Almost as famous as his Gitmo victory.
Obama then channeled Hassan Rouhani; indeed, he recycled the Iranian presiden’t own words. Obama stated: “As we pursue a settlement [in Syria], let us remember that this is not a zero-sum endeavor. We are no longer in a Cold War. There’s no Great Game to be won.”
So again, America is not playing to win. If only Assad, al Qaeda, Iran, Russia, et. al. were equally modest in ambition.
Next, risking whatever good will he had gained from assuring the world that he’s a sucker, Obama blamed the world for his inability to win support from the American public for engagement in the Middle East:
[T]he situation in Syria mirrors a contradiction that has persisted in the region for decades: the United States is chastised for meddling in the region, and accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy; at the same time, the United States is blamed for failing to do enough to solve the region’s problems, and for showing indifference toward suffering Muslim populations.
I realize some of this is inevitable, given America’s role in the world. But these attitudes have a practical impact on the American peoples’ support for our involvement in the region, and allow leaders in the region – and the international community – to avoid addressing difficult problems.
Actually, there’s no evidence that these attitudes have anything to do with lack of American support for involvement in the Middle East. To my knowledge, no member of Congress cited them as a basis for opposing intervention in Syria. They cited mostly “war weariness,” which Obama has encouraged, and, in the case of Republicans, the view that Obama is too much of a sucker to be trusted with a military intervention.
Turning to Iran, Obama posed as an even greater sucker than, surely, he really is.
The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.
These statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.
You’re kidding, right? This is just a repeat of Syria — you’re using negotiations you know won’t produce real results to avoid taking real action, right?
And would you please stop referring to Ali Khamenei as The Supreme Leader? How much has this suck-up softened Khamenei so far?
But maybe Obama isn’t kidding:
Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested.
So we’re back to early 2009 when, as Emanuele Ottolenghi reminds us, Obama told George Stephanopoulos, “we are going to have to take a new approach,” that “engagement is the place to start,” and that “a new emphasis on respect and a new willingness on being willing to talk” would guide his policy.
There is this difference, though: Iran is more than four years closer (and probably very close, indeed) to having nuclear weapons. So this time, Iran, needing to run down the clock only a little bit, will perhaps talk to Obama’s representatives and string the administration along with more statements of “commitment to reach an agreement.” Maybe it can even induce our sucker-in-chief Obama to ease sanctions.
There was more from Obama — the usual pap about the Middle East “peace process” and some final reflections that were sufficiently general not to cause further embarrassment.
At the end of the day, though, it’s difficult to see how any diplomat, even one who swims in the U.N. cesspool, can still take Obama seriously.