In regard to the oil spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, an exasperated President Obama is reported to have said, "Plug the damn hole." Clearly, when public opinion demands it of him, Obama can be decisive. Nevertheless, Obama's approach to Iran has been painstakingly slow and will do nothing to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. While Obama plays diplomatic games, Iran is running thousands of centrifuges day and night and could have enough enriched uranium for a bomb within one or two years.
The New York Times reports today that President Obama has released his new National Security Strategy. Of course, the Times also cannot resist adding a little editorializing about the Bush administration:
That line is just one of many subtle slaps at President George W. Bush. Much of the National Security Strategy, which is required by Congress, reads as an argument for a restoration of an older order of reliance on international institutions, updated to confront modern threats. While Mr. Bush’s 2002 document explicitly said the United States would never allow the rise of a rival superpower, Mr. Obama argues that America faces no real military competitor, but that global power is increasingly diffuse.This analysis provides a stark contrast with the reality of the two presidents' foreign policy--particularly regarding the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Despite the liberal trope that the United States acted alone when we invaded Iraq, the truth is that Bush navigated the same UN Security Council process that now bedevils his successor and obtained a unanimous vote that Saddam's defiance must come to an end. Furthermore, he built a coalition which involved more than 30 other nations at one time or another. Most importantly, Saddam Hussein is now dead and the Iraqi people no longer live in fear of his tyrannical regime.
Meanwhile, on the issue of Iran, Obama has sought to convince our "friends" in the UN to support tough sanctions, but only after making painful concessions such as the removal of the so-called "missile shield" from Eastern Europe. Now, Russia has finally agreed to support sanctions against Iran, but only after getting a last-minute loophole to allow weapons sales between the two countries to continue. Brazil and Turkey are in an uproar and it remains to be seen what other sacrifices the United States will have to make before the sanctions can actually go into effect.
Even then, what happens when Iran defies international pressure and sanctions and continues enriching enough uranium for a bomb? Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons turned out to be illusory, but in the case of Iran, we face a growing and imminent threat which is very real. At some point, Obama will have to take decisive and possibly unilateral action. Let us hope that he is up to the task.