President Strangelove or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

Concerned about Soviet intentions in the region the Truman administration entered into the U. S.-Saudi Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (MDA) in 1951. The Agreement provided the foundation for what would emerge as an American commitment to provide a defense umbrella for the region to protect American interests in the Middle East. American assurances to states in the region seemed intact until the GW Bush Administration invasion of Iraq. Trapped in a war it completely misjudged and soon realized it could not win the administration sought an accommodation with Iran to control Shi’ite militias battling the Americans.

The Bush policy of “accommodation” with Iran became the Obama policy of “appeasement” towards the Islamic Republic. Thus began a six-year-long quest to intended to encourage that country’s recalcitrant and hegemony ambitious leaders to abandon its nuclear weapons program. With the imminent 30 June deadline for signing an Agreement quickly approaching the president invited the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states headed by Saudi Arabia to Camp David promising a mutual defense agreement assuring the Arab states of American protection in the event Iran proved a threat to the region. In addition to “assurances, the Saudis insisted on a signed and “formal alliance structure with the United States guaranteeing U.S. support against potential Iranian aggression.”

In advance of the conference the White House announced that President Obama would meet with the Saudi king the day before Camp David. But at the last minute, [d]ispleased with Washington's dealings with Iran, with an emerging deal over its nuclear program and with US security proposals to Gulf Arab nations,” King Salman announced he would not meet with President Obama and would not attend the Camp David conference. In the end only two of six Gulf nations decided to attend with heads of state.  

The king’s last-minute cancellation, his turn-down of a meeting with the leader of the Free World was described as “a calculated snub for the president’s policies on Iran and the Middle East.” It was revealed that Kerry, in his meeting with the Saudis the week earlier, told the king that Obama was not prepared to finalize according to the king’s timetable any agreement that might result at Camp David.

And then there was the fact that a mutual defense agreement with the Saudis, the 1951 MDA, already existed already assuring the Saudis protection under America’s nuclear umbrella. Mistrust of American intentions and assurances by America’s “allies” built up over the previous twelve years was palpable.  

Bush and the Region

“Even before the inauguration [and, of course, the pretext of 9/11], Cheney asked outgoing Secretary of Defense William Cohen to provide Bush with a briefing focused on Iraq[Bush appointee] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld saw, “September 11, 2001, as a potential “opportunity.””

Symptomatic of hubris resulting from power minus coherent policy President Bush ignored both Arab and Israeli warnings of Foreseen Consequences certain to follow should the administration follow through with its threat to invade Iraq

“With his latest remarks, [Saudi, later king] Prince Abdullah joined the chorus of Arab complaints about the Bush administration's talk of taking military action to oust Saddam Hussein and put an end to his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. At virtually every stop in the Arab world, Mr. Cheney has been told that an American military strike would destabilize the region.”

And, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, "[t]he Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy - Iran is the enemy." Wilkerson said that the Israeli reaction to invading Iraq in early 2002 was, "If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy."

Bush and the Bomb

"Cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, quotes the king as saying during a meeting with General David Petraeus in April 2008.

In a speech to the Knesset in 2008 to observe Israel’s 60th anniversary Bush told the Knesset, "America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations.” Nowhere in his speech did Bush hint at his long held view that America was not prepared to enter another Middle East war, that there never was a military option with which to threaten Iran’s nuclear weapons program. No accident then that Bush chose war-averse Robert Gates as his defense secretary; and that Gates in turn chose war-averse Admiral “Mike” Mullen as head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The dovish defense pair would for years be the president’s PR mouthpiece warning against even the threat of force to halt Iran’s nuclear program. The Gates/Mullen oft-repeated warning of “unforeseen consequences” became, over the years a common, almost mantra-like warning against any action against Iran.

No surprise then that the openly dovish, newly-elected President Obama invited Gates to remain on as his defense department head, “a show of bipartisan continuity in a time of war that will be the first time a Pentagon chief has been carried over from a president of a different party.”

Obama and the Region

By way of destabilizing the region Obama has not yet equaled the fallout of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. If Bush gifted Iraq to Iran, set the stage for the “Arab Spring,” Obama did not come in second for lack of trying. The new president followed Bush by targeting his own tyrant, Muamar Qadafi and transforming Libya, as did Bush in Iraq, a political wreck bordering on a failed state.  Libya today is ruled al-Queda, Islamic State and other terror organizations with two governments powerless to assert control. Bordering Egypt Libya today supplies both the Sinai Salafist insurgency and the terror enclave of Gaza with weapons. And as Bush ignored Israeli and Arab warnings regarding the impact of invading Iraq, Obama chose to those same Arab-Israeli warnings regarding his intention to depose America’s principal Arab ally, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. In a single mindless move the U.S. followed up its Iraq disaster with Egypt. And followed the collapse of Egypt’s secular regime, insult to injury Obama endorsed as “democratic government” the same Muslim Brotherhood with a decades-long terror campaign against the government; the group behind the assassination of Anwar Sadat for having sought peace with Israel: the Muslim Brotherhood whose child, al-Quaeda, had flown airliners into New York’s World Trade Center! The list of Bush and Obama Administration policy failures seems to know no limits: Iraq redo, Bahrain, Yemen and the bloodbath of Syria. Lacking capacity to learn from ideology-based failures, it continually repeats its “unintended consequences.”

Obama and the Bomb

If Bush set the pattern for accommodation then the tactic at least had some “justification” as Iran’s IRGC was funding, arming and even leading the Shi’ite insurgency against Iraq’s American invaders. Not provoking Iran might have the result of limiting American casualties. But for Obama, recipient in advance of the Nobel Peace Prize for promising regarding “world peace”; for Obama to provide Iran, a state sponsor of Islamist terrorism a world forum to show up American weakness and enhance Iranian prestige; for Obama whose commitment on entering office was to promote nuclear non-proliferation: for Obama to provide Iran all the time necessary to achieve threshold nuclear armament status and, failing to contain Iran the consequence would be a nuclear arms race in the lands of the Arab Spring… Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are already moving to parity with Iran while Jordan and several Gulf states are at varying stages of planning.   


Obama, who promised nuclear non-proliferation, has turned out to be godfather to a nuclear arms race in the least stable, most militant region of the world!