by Barry Rubin
President Barack Obama didn't understand how quickly and easily his diplomatic "generosity" and readiness to make concessions becomes a trap or also how his self-professed reluctance to do anything tough turns into a terrible vulnerability. Now he faces being outmaneuvered by
The score today is
First, Obama has talked a great deal about engaging
But guess what? The Iranians can play that game also. At the last minute,
There's more, however. Second, the Iranian regime said that it wouldn't talk about its own nuclear program but proposed instead that all nuclear weapons in the world be eliminated.
Now where did they get this idea? Why, from Obama himself of course! He proposed this in his
And that's not all! For this credibility through engagement thing works both ways. When Obama says the
Third, the Russians accepted it. Jumping at the chance for an excuse not to raise sanctions, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said there won't be any new sanctions because he thinks the Iranian proposals are just dandy and more time should be spent (wasted) in more meetings.
Incidentally, as I've previously reported, the Russians have been talking this way for months. Yet while the danger was clear, the Obama Administration ignored it, pretending all was well with
In the end, though, the Obama administration decided to step into the trap and negotiate with
"..Officials said their expectations were extremely low. They also said their willingness to proceed was based in part on a recognition that some form of talks had to take place before the
"`We'll be looking to see if they are willing to engage seriously on these issues,'" said a State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. "`If we have talks, we will plan to bring up the nuclear issue.''"
But why do there have be some kind of talks? Who is going to care? How long are these going to take, no doubt well into 2010. Also note that
Moreover we should remember this is a post-stolen election regime which is putting peaceful reformers on trial, and whose hardline defense minister is wanted for terrorism. Even if the
Remember that any government can have its policy fail but what's really a mistake is to pursue a policy which any serious and objective observer can see well ahead of time is inevitably going to fail.
So far the
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