Obama’s Iran policy commits him to war

Despite the alleged difference
between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran,
both embrace a position that logically commits them to war. If war is to be
avoided, as Obama says he wishes, he will have to abandon his current stance.

The difference between Obama
and Netanyahu is more apparent than real. Both say Iran’s possession of a
nuclear weapon is “unacceptable.” Both have vauntingly put “all options on the
table,” including the nuclear option. Both say they are willing to give harsh
economic sanctions and diplomacy more time.

Some difference seems to exist
between where each would draw the “red line.” Netanyahu says he cannot tolerate
Iran’s having even partially finished components and know-how; by that low
standard, Iran has already crossed the line. Obama seems to draw the line at
actual production or possession of a nuclear weapon. In practice this may be a
distinction without a difference, since if Iran were to decide to build a
weapon, it certainly would not do it in the open.

That is a big “if,” however.
Neither American nor Israeli intelligence believes Iran has decided to make a
nuclear warhead. For a decade American and Israeli demagogues have said an Iranian
bomb is just a few years away. Yet Iran’s uranium, which is under the watchful
eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has not been enriched to weapons
grade. Iran insists its nuclear research is for electricity and medicine.
Moreover, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for years has said that Islam forbids
possession of nuclear weapons. In February Khamenei
repeated
:

“The Iranian nation has never
pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the
decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after
nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and
theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and
believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and
dangerous.”

One may reasonably be skeptical
of what the head of any government says, but one is obliged to present some
evidence to contradict a particular claim, especially one made over many years
and supported by American intelligence.

At best Obama has bought some
time with Netanyahu. The last thing Obama wants before the election is a new
war that would, as the least of its consequences, send gasoline prices soaring.

But let’s not yet conclude that
Obama deserves another Nobel Peace Prize. The time he bought is time in which
the Iranian middle and working classes will suffer greatly under the tightening
sanctions, which impede the country’s ability to sell its oil and to import
needed commodities. Food prices are already skyrocketing as the value of the
Iranian rial plummets. Innocent people, particularly children, are suffering.

This is reminiscent of the
1990s sanctions on Iraq that killed 500,000 children and fueled the
anti-Americanism that led to the attacks on September 11, 2001. One recalls
President Clinton’s UN ambassador and later secretary of state Madeleine
Albright’s infamous comment that the murder of those children was “worth it” in
the effort to drive Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from power. Will Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton say the same thing some day?

The other track Obama touts is
diplomacy. But the big question is this: What is there to talk about? Iran’s
government (with the support of the people) insists it may legally enrich
uranium for peaceful purposes. Indeed, it may do so under the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed. But Obama and Netanyahu want
Iran to end its enrichment program. When Iran arranged to acquire enriched
uranium in a swap with Turkey and Brazil, Obama scotched the deal (after being
for it).

So the United States and Israel
are making a demand that Iran cannot accept without becoming subservient to
them. This it will not do. What then? Considering what Obama (“I don’t bluff”)
and Netanyahu demand, war is the only remaining option. Their objective simply
cannot be achieved except by regime change, and the Iranian government cannot
be expected to accommodate them.

Obama’s adulators desperately
want to believe he is a man of peace. They need to wake up.

* Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation
(www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

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