You’ve probably heard of the Truman Doctrine and the Eisenhower Doctrine. But
there’s a reason the term “Obama Doctrine” does not sound familiar.
current US president doesn’t have a doctrine. He doesn’t even have a strategy.
At best, Barack Obama has tactics – policies determined by popularity polls,
that lead him to zigzag from one side to the other, possibly endangering entire
populations but keeping his Nobel Peace Prize safe. He got the award, after all,
for simply being himself.
At this rate, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
could also find himself a candidate for the once-meaningful prize. He smiles a
lot, at least on camera, and he knows how to give a good interview. To cap it
all, Rouhani has opened Facebook and Twitter accounts, thus proving, apparently,
that he is a modern-thinking, reasonable man of the world.
convinced. I won’t be convinced, in fact, until, for a start, ordinary Iranians
are allowed to openly have Facebook, Twitter and other social media and not just
the country’s leaders. That’s a very tiny step in the right direction. The
direction of freedom and democracy.
I also didn’t find Rouhani’s now
famous interview with Christiane Amanpour as encouraging as some of my friends.
Rouhani, who was speaking in Farsi, was quoted by CNN as saying: “Whatever
criminality they committed against the Jews we condemn.”
Ahmadinejad, Rouhani’s predecessor, couldn’t even bring himself to admit that
the Holocaust had taken place, but Iranian leaders since the fall of the shah
have traditionally at least pretended to offer full rights for their Jewish
citizens while threatening to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
permit me to smirk at Rouhani’s oh-so-reasonable-sounding: “The taking of human
life is contemptible.
It makes no difference if that life is Jewish life,
Christian or Muslim. For us it is the same.”
It might ring more true if
Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas didn’t frequently carry out acts of
terrorism and missile attacks – with the full blessing and financial backing of
the Islamic Republic leaders in Tehran.
No wonder Rouhani, unlike Obama,
did a lot of smiling this week. I almost laughed out loud – at the
While the American president had to deal with a financial
shutdown, his Iranian counterpart was basically assured of an easing of economic
sanctions without any sign of changing his country’s race to gain nuclear
I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Obama’s predicament. I
understand that he is tired of being “the world’s policeman.” But that doesn’t
mean he should act the global village idiot.
For Obama has just
strengthened Rouhani’s hand – a hand covered with blood. If you don’t believe
me, ask the leaders of the Gulf states, if you can get them while they’re still
on speaking terms with the West.
Given Obama’s flip-flop on Syria (where
gassing children and other innocent citizens apparently no longer counts as a
crime against humanity) and his move toward Rouhani, it’s no wonder that Arab
countries under immediate threat from the Shi’ite regime in Tehran are
considering their options. And they might find Russia’s Vladimir Putin a better
bet for their purposes than the American president, who seems to have been so
dazzled by Rouhani’s smile that he wanted to keep in touch by phone.
OBAMA, I, too, prefer compromise to fighting. But compromise and diplomatic
solutions should not be confused with appeasement.
involves a great deal of passive aggression, a trait I always find sinister. I
hate arguments. When other people walk away from vendors in a market as part of
a bargaining ploy, I walk away to avoid the fight. But I’ll take a good, honest
row to clear the air anytime in preference to backstabbing and
Many Israelis feel they have been cast in the role of party
poopers. The world wanted to believe Iran is reforming and Iran wanted the world
to believe it has changed. So everybody was happy – except those of us who
realize what terror and destruction Tehran has already wrought around the globe
and what more it could achieve if it adds nuclear arms to its
The dots – splotches of blood – lead back to Tehran from all
over the map.
And the world is not in good shape.
fuel prices in Sudan at least saved us from a sight possibly more disturbing
than Rouhani’s charm offensive.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
canceled his visit to New York. Bashir, wanted in the International Criminal
Court in The Hague, had intended attending the UN General Assembly. Leading up
to his planned visit, there was some debate over whether the US should grant him
an entry visa. There was not nearly enough debate on why the UN saw fit to
invite him in the first place, although evidently he would have been in good
Iran is not alone. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan already has
nuclear weapons. It is also a state in a precarious position, edging ever closer
to civil war. Terror attacks are common.
Last month, while most of the
world wasn’t watching, at least 78 people were killed in a suicide attack as
they were leaving Sunday services at the historic All Saints Church in
And you can pretend, if you want, that the attack in the
shopping mall in Kenya’s capital – in which more than 60 people lost their lives
– had nothing to do with jihadi terrorists.
Just don’t ask why the
perpetrators spared the Muslim patrons while shooting down the
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Islamist separatists killed scores
last month in several attacks, most notably in a shooting spree on dozens of
students sleeping in a dormitory of a university that – contrary to the Boko
Haram separatists’ liking – has a Western academic curriculum. Elsewhere in
Nigeria, a pastor was gunned down and his church torched.
At a meeting
with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Obama reportedly described Boko Haram
as one of the most vicious terrorist organizations in the world and reiterated
his commitment to fight terrorism.
The Nigerian leader might want to
prepare a contingency plan, however, just in case the US president changes his
Forgive me the cynicism. And forgive me for finding Rouhani more
offensive than charming.
It was clear to me what Rouhani was trying to
achieve by baring his white teeth in a smile – and he succeeded.
Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fell prey to his charms, the former
enchanted, the latter more isolated.
Netanyahu gave a polished speech –
the sort he excels at – to a UN that was no longer listening. Unlike the
American leader, he has a consistent strategy – aimed at preventing Iran from
terrorizing the whole world – but he made some tactical errors.
Netanyahu should not have ordered the Israeli delegation to boycott Rouhani’s
speech. Secondly, he should have called his bluff.
Israel indeed longs
for the good old days of friendship and trade with Persia.
It’s a much
better option for all than war. Even now, the prime minister could reach out and
invite Iran to talk. That would in itself involve recognizing Israel, as a
sovereign country rather than a target.
Meanwhile, Rouhani has good
reason to be happy – for him, the UN was an enriching
Consider what is more likely in the near future: World peace
or Iran becoming a nuclear power?
The answer should wipe the smile from the face
of all but hard-core supporters of the Islamist Republic of Iran.
writer is the editor of The International Jerusalem Post.