The Obama administration’s response to Iran’s plan to bring its 32-year-old war
against the United States to the US capital is the newest confirmation that
President Barack Obama has no intention of taking action to remove or diminish
the threat Iran poses to the US, its allies and interests.
Last week, the
Justice Department revealed that law enforcement officials foiled an Iranian
plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US and to blow up the Saudi and
Israeli embassies in Washington.
They arrested an Iranian-American dual
national who is a relative of a senior terror mastermind serving in Iran’s
Revolutionary Guards. The dual national, Mansoor Arbabsiar, contacted an
American undercover agent whom he believed worked for one of Mexico’s drug
cartels and asked for the cartel to assist Iran in carrying out the
Iran declared war on the US in 1979. Since then, it has used its
terrorist arms in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the
region to murder Americans. It has used its terror arms in Latin American to
target US interests and allies. And now it has been caught in the act of
recruiting agents to assist it in carrying out acts of terror in Washington,
Following the Justice Department’s announcement, the Obama
administration proclaimed it intends to “isolate” Iran in the international
community. While it sounds like a serious plan, particularly when it is stated
assertively by Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the fact is that
this is not a serious policy at all.
Indeed, upon reflection, it is clear
that the announced aim of isolating Iran involves doing nothing to retaliate
against Iran for its aggression.
There are three reasons that this is the
case. First, by placing the burden for punishing Iran on the nebulous
“international community,” Obama is signaling that under his leadership, America
does not view operational plans to attack US interests on American soil as
something that America should deal with.
In Iran’s case, the
“international community” means Russia and China. The two UN Security
Council-veto-wielding regimes have collaborated with Iran on its illicit
activities generally and its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles specifically. Russia and China have blocked all serious sanctions
against Iran in the UN Security Council. Their active defense of Iran at the
Security Council renders it a foregone conclusion that the UN will never
authorize military force to be used against Iran’s nuclear
Since Russia and China prefer to see Iran acquire nuclear
weapons than authorize any UN measure that could prevent or slow down this
development, it is hard to imagine either government suddenly agreeing to
isolate Iran just because it planned to kill the Saudi ambassador and blow up a
couple of foreign embassies in Washington.
THE SECOND reason it is
reasonable to conclude that the administration is being disingenuous in its
tough talk about Iran is because the administration tells us it is being
disingenuous. Speaking to The New York Times over the weekend, several senior
White House officials said they were considering options to steeply escalate the
US’s sanctions against Iran.
Specifically, they said the administration
is mulling the prospect of barring financial transactions with Iran’s central
bank. They also said that the White House is thinking about barring contact with
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards-owned company that controls the sale of Iranian oil
and natural gas to foreign countries.
Then again, administration sources
also told the Times that they aren’t certain that the sanctions are such a good
idea. If the US blocks the only viable path toward purchasing Iranian gas and
oil and otherwise makes it impossible for Iran to sell its natural resources,
they warned, the US would cause the market price of both commodities to rise
sharply, thus harming its own economy.So probably the US won’t ratchet up
sanctions on the regime after all.
Then there is the notion of military
retaliation. After the news broke of the foiled terror plot, Obama let it be
known that the “military option is on the table.” But then, he didn’t specify
the goal of the military option or its target. Is the US developing an option
for attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities? Is it preparing to attack
Iranian regime targets in an effort to topple the largest state sponsor of
terrorism in the world? Is it planning a military strike against IRGC targets in
Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan? It is highly unlikely that the US is planning to
undertake any of these missions. Over the weekend, the US announced that its
troops would be fully removed from Iraq in January. Obama has insisted on
withdrawing his surge troops from Afghanistan despite the Taliban resurgence in
As for attacking regime targets, it is hard to imagine that
after siding with the mullahs against democracy protesters in the aftermath of
the 2009 stolen presidential elections, Obama would decide to call suddenly for
the regime to be replaced – let alone take military action to advance that
THEN THERE is the nuclear issue. Since Russia’s and China’s support
for Iran at the Security Council rules out any option of a Security
Council-sanctioned attack in Iran’s nuclear installations, it is fairly obvious
that the administration will take no military action whatsoever against Iran’s
nuclear program. This is, after all, the administration that believes the US
must receive UN approval for any military operation.
pro-ayatollah policies have caused him to treat the prospect of a nuclear-armed
Iran as essentially identical to the threat posed to the US by the Soviet Union
during the Cold War. As nuclear proliferation scholar Avner Cohen explained in
an interview with The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, the administration is
committed to a policy of containing a nuclear-armed Iran rather than preventing
Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Cohen explained, “The US wants
itself, and also Israel, to be engaged in a thorough effort to contain Iran –
like the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War – meaning that
for all practical purposes and short of extreme circumstances, both the US and
Israel would have to put aside the military option and instead work to contain
According to Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director of the UN’s
International Atomic Energy Agency, the US will have an opportunity to put its
nuclear containment policy toward Iran into action in the near future. In an
interview two weeks ago with Der Spiegel, Heinonen asserted that within two
years, the Iranians will have sufficient quantities of plutonium to produce
atomic bombs. Within a year, they will have enough highly enriched uranium to
have what is referred to as “break-out capacity,” meaning they can produce
nuclear bombs at will.
The problem with Obama’s non-response to Iran’s
nuclear weapons program and its terror plot to attack Washington is that the
Iranian regime is nothing like the Soviet Union. The regime whose first foray
into international diplomacy involved taking a knife to the nation-state system
by attacking the US embassy and holding its personnel hostage is not a strategic
equivalent of the Soviet Union. A regime that lured 100,000 of its children to
their deaths during the Iran-Iraq War by sending them out to the field as human
mine sweepers is not a regime that can be contained through mutual assured
destruction as the Soviets were.
Iran’s war against the US is a war that
only Iran is fighting. And if something doesn’t change very quickly, it is clear
that since Iran is the only side fighting the war, Iran is the only side that
will win the war.