Obama: Witting or Witless?

 

obamairanI was elected to end wars, not start them. – Barack Obama

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. – George Orwell

 A question has hung in the air since Barack Obama first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and began his “fundamental transformation” of this country: Did he intend harm or was he merely so blinded by ideology that he could not see the damage his policies were creating? The Iran deal provides an answer.

At his press conference, our duplicitous leader chose to call black white, and claim that the deal does the opposite of what it does – allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, albeit after a decent interval. We are deep into Orwellian territory now. “War is peace. Ignorance is strength.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is crowing that Iran achieved all of its objectives and the U.S. none.

The bombproof facility in the mountain at Fordow – which, until recently, the US had demanded be shuttered and locked — will now have an “international presence” so that attempts to thwart its progress even by sabotage will be effectively blocked. This is permission masquerading as prevention. It’s of a piece with the Administration’s pressure on Israel to refrain from military action, which was rewarded with Obama aides calling Netanyahu a “chicken….” and crowing that his chance had passed.

Permission masquerading as prevention sums up the whole deal. The U.S. had demanded anywhere/anytime inspections, and negotiated to lift sanctions only after evidence of Iranian compliance. Now, the inspections regime is a joke: Iran gets 24 days’ notice and sits on the committee that decides if inspections are necessary. The sanctions are lifted immediately, handing the world’s chief sponsor of terror a $100 billion windfall. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who was captured on videotape in April saying anytime/anywhere inspections would be required, now denies that the U.S. ever made that a condition.

While the Administration claimed it couldn’t negotiate for the release of four Americans held unlawfully in Iranian prisons because that was outside the scope of nuclear negotiations, they did agree to lift the embargo on conventional arms and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were also outside the compass of nuclear concerns. Why? Because “Iran demanded it.” Well, ok then.

President Obama’s press conference was a spectacle of bad faith. A virtuoso of lip service (see his sympathy for Israel) and endless conjurer of straw men, he took few questions but silkily implied that he had answered all objections. “There is no scenario in which a U.S. president is not in a stronger position 12, 13, 15 years from now, if in fact Iran decided at that point they still wanted to get a nuclear weapon.”

What? In 12 to 15 years, Iran will be an immensely wealthier, better-armed, and more powerful country than it is today. It will be, to quote Mr. Obama, “a very successful regional power” and then some. It will have acquired advanced anti-aircraft weapons and ballistic missiles, and doubtless a much-improved air force.

The dishonest core of the president’s pretense is this: that the choice was between war and diplomacy. Every school child knows that diplomacy without the credible threat of force is a nullity. Obama knows how to frighten and intimidate when he wants to. See his conduct toward Republicans or Netanyahu or the Supreme Court.

There was always a very different path available. He could have increased the sanctions instead of pleading with Congress not to impose them. He could have attacked Syria when it crossed his “red line” rather than folding and thereby conveying his fecklessness to Tehran. He could have refrained from calling everyone in the U.S. who favored a hardline against Iran a “warmonger” – again conveying that Iran had nothing to fear from him. He could have supported the protesters in the streets in 2009 rather than signaling his support for the regime. He could have left the negotiating table many times, but especially after the IAEA reported earlier this month that Iran was in violation of earlier nuclear treaties and had increased its stockpiles of enriched uranium by 20 percent. And yes, if all of the above failed, he could have deployed strategic bombing to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.

But from his first inaugural address onward, Obama both secretly and openly wooed the Iranian regime. In the process, he repeatedly lied to the Congress, our allies, and the American people, settling, to my satisfaction at least, that he is inflicting this potential catastrophe wittingly.

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I can’t say “like”  but I regretfully agree. What I can’t comprehend is how a demented executive could get the entire foreign policy apparatus of the government to go along with this catastrophe. I know Kerry is a dope, but why do the professional chin-strokers like David Ignatius  call it a good deal?

    • #1
  2. user_170953 Inactive
    user_170953
    @WilliamLaing

    What has the world done to deserve this terrible man? Where we really so distracted, so guilt-addled, so empty of self-respect?

    • #2
  3. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    I agree.  Witting.  What he believes is not that remarkable.  You can find many like-minded people on university campuses, but I never imagined one of them would be elected President of the United States.

    • #3
  4. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    In other news, Real Donald Trump is fighting with Fake Donald Trump on twitter.

    • #4
  5. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Notice how Obama’s policies tend to be of the sort that the catastrophe will hit when he is well out of office.   It’s true of ObamaCare.  If this deal is as bad as you say Mona, it will be true of this too.

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mona Charen: A question has hung in the air since Barack Obama first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and began his “fundamental transformation” of this country: Did he intend harm or was he merely so blinded by ideology that he could not see the damage his policies were creating? The Iran deal provides an answer.

    It’s ironic that Obama never explicitly said what the specifics of his “fundamental transformation” were.  Rush has said that if the voters had known what was coming, they would never have voted for him in the first place.  I agree, but up to a point – Obama’s re-election in 2012 now makes me believe that Obama voters don’t care what his policies are, as long as they get their “stuff” at someone else’s expense . . .

    • #6
  7. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Michael Sanregret: but I never imagined one of them would be elected President of the United States.

    Truly?  Given many decades-long trends here, I’m not at all surprised he was elected, and then re-.

    • #7
  8. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    “[H]e is inflicting this potential catastrophe wittingly.”

    Fully agreed.

    Michael Doran was warning about this before the crocuses started blooming this year:

    http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2015/02/obamas-secret-iran-strategy/

    And as Hanoi John and Pyongyang Wendy were zeroing in on the deal that Obama was actually seeking, a prominent non-proliferation policy veteran raised this alarm as well:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/191479/obama-iran-nonproliferation

    All of which leads me to repeat what I have asked in several other threads:

    Surely the US Congress must have a case for presidential impeachment for willful violation of the Constitution’s “take care” clause?

    Shouldn’t we be pressing our elected representatives on this *in addition* to pressing them on the “deal” itself?

    No doubt there have been several other instances when this POTUS has willfully violated said clause (e.g., immigration, DOMA, etc.) — is there no point at which we, and those who should be our servants on Capitol Hill, finally say “Enough!”?  National security — of the “purest” type, unlike, say, the knotty immigration issue — doesn’t represent the proverbial tipping point?

    • #8
  9. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    Agreed. Obama is so blatant that there is no other conclusion to come to. Now comes the question what to do about it. If the likes of Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer continue to be willing defenders then we can only expect relief in 2016. If on the other hand they can be convinced of just how dangerous and disastrous this evil man in the White House is then another result is possible.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
  10. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Bill Clinton said the same thing about N Korea in 1996. Had the same adviser, Ms Sherman.

    • #10
  11. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    William Laing:What has the world done to deserve this terrible man? Where we really so distracted, so guilt-addled, so empty of self-respect?

    Did you miss the other big story of the first half of this week about Planned Parenthood selling parts from aborted babies?

    Or of several weeks ago tearing out a bearing wall of civilization by vitiating millennia of social wisdom by redefining marriage to include same sex couples.

    As a nation we exultantly stick our middle finger straight into God’s eye, curse him to his face, and dare him to exact justice. But it is coming.

    • #11
  12. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Obama wittingly has undertaken to pull America down to the level of, say, Greece. Or maybe Burkina Faso.

    He’s a malignant narcissist bordering on a sociopath. He knows he’ll be an allrightnik with the best security the taxpayer can provide all his life. With a real good chance of becoming UN Secretary General or Supreme Court Justice, maybe both. Probably even survive and thrive after the EMP of a rogue nuclear blast over the East or West coast. Not at all concerned about anything or anyone else.

    Keep in mind that Obama doesn’t say things because he believes they are true. He believes things are true because he says them. Of course he believes every word of yesterday’s press conference. He will believe every word he utters from here on out, regardless of whether it contradicts anything he’s said before. Reality is shaped by his very utterances as far as he’s concerned.

    • #12
  13. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I’m praying Congress does not approve this monstrosity, but I don’t have much faith in them.

    • #13
  14. user_124389 Inactive
    user_124389
    @RichardYoung

    There is plenty of blame to be parceled out for where we find ourselves.  A big portion is due to those Republicans, independents and other complacent Americans who opposed Obama but decided not to cast their vote for Mitt Romney, whether because he didn’t care enough about them (boo hoo), was robotic, was not really a Christian or (fill in the blank).  If you are one of these people I hope you whine about where we are while looking in the mirror.

    • #14
  15. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    I agree. The national security implications are devastating. And Senate Republicans, with the notable exception of Tom Cotton, share in the duplicity: first by acceding to Obama’s characterization of this as an executive agreement, then by affirmatively surrendering the treaty power (c.f., Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015), and finally by declaring themselves outraged but powerless to do anything to prevent this travesty going into effect.

    Even now, the Senate should treat this far-reaching agreement as a treaty, regardless of Obama’s characterization, schedule a vote and kill it.

    Since we are dealing with Obama, Congress would then need to prohibit any funds being spent to support implementation. But this would risk a –gasp!–government shutdown, which Republicans will never ever do, not even to prevent a third world war.

    One further thought: After this, no president will ever need to submit a treaty for Senate ratification. Obama provides the template: Arrange a multi-party deal impossible to unravel down the line and call it an executive agreement.

    Forward!

    • #15
  16. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    To paraphrase Mark Steyn’s question, if Obama were actually on the side of our enemies, what would he be doing differently?

    • #16
  17. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Obama says, “I know what I am doing.” I think that we should take him at his word.

    • #17
  18. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    The answer is obvious.  Obama is so busy going after his goals he does not see the unintended (and negative) consequences his actions.  That makes him half-witting.

    Seawriter

    • #18
  19. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Seawriter:The answer is obvious. Obama is so busy going after his goals he does not see the unintended (and negative) consequences his actions. That makes him half-witting.

    Seawriter

    Same principle that makes his vast plans unfailingly turn out half-vast.

    • #19
  20. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    #15 George Savage

    This:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obamas-u.n.-plan-backfires-on-congress/article/2568447

    Of course, this could all be just more of the usual Capitol Hill kabuki.

    • #20
  21. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    Agree with George Savage. The Corker charade was devised with full knowledge that this agreement was going to be a fiasco. The Capital Boys know Obama and they know Kerry. They knew exactly how those two self-regarding fops would negotiate with the likes of Islamic supremacists. (Think of the Delta House white boys at the blues roadhouse in “Animal House.”)

    But the number one special interest group in Washington, DC is spelled C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S, so Corker and the boys re-wrote the rules the give themselves the two things – after power and wealth – that they crave most: no responsibility and plausible deniability.

    Despite the frantic exertions of the Likud wing of the conservative media, I predict the agreement will be voted down in Congress, suffer a veto of the disapproval by Obama , and then the veto will be sustained by 2 or 3 votes in the Senate.

    Watch how many Democrats strategically vote one way on the treaty and the other way on the override. That was the plan.

    Corker has earned the sincere respect of his peers. His lobbying career will be golden.

    • #21
  22. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    According to the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, 45% of US voters approve of Obama’s job performance after the deal. What are these people thinking?

    My answer, based on personal anecdotal observation, is that Obama supporters don’t understand the issues (Iranian nukes, medical care, government regulation, unemployment), but they are still in love with him. They don’t want to hear any criticism of him, which, when they do hear it, are still convinced it is based on his race (the black half). They are shocked to think that any sensible person could oppose him or his policies. They are very, very heavily invested in him. They don’t care that he constantly lies. They can’t remember his previous comments on any issue, anyway. Besides, Bush lied, people died.

    Not only is he not a traitor, an idiot, or a narcissist, he is a great genius who, they think, is not only the best president we’ve ever had, but the best president we could possibly ever have. They know this because Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow have told them so.

    They are immune to rational argument, and they know it.

    • #22
  23. tbeck Inactive
    tbeck
    @Dorothea

    Owen Findy:

    Michael Sanregret: but I never imagined one of them would be elected President of the United States.

    Truly? Given many decades-long trends here, I’m not at all surprised he was elected, and then re-.

    Right. The Marxist-left’s long march through the institutions, resulting in our first Anti-American President.

    • #23
  24. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    Owen Findy:

    Michael Sanregret: but I never imagined one of them would be elected President of the United States.

    Truly? Given many decades-long trends here, I’m not at all surprised he was elected, and then re-.

    Truly.  Obviously I was naive.

    • #24
  25. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Dorothea:

    …The Marxist-left’s long march through the institutions, resulting in our first Anti-American President.

    So, yes, Mona. Very witting. He is so Faculty Lounge ideological, so non-American ideological, that if Tel Aviv disappears in a mushroom cloud while he is still President, he will say that we will send humanitarian relief, but that Israel brought it upon themselves and we can’t intervene in a local conflict, particularly since the Israelis have treated the people of Palestine so poorly.

    I think there is a very broad avenue of possibility that (with back-channel co-ordination with Iran) when the ten year period is up. Obama will be UN Secretary General, Tel Aviv will disappear as above, and the same statements will be made. He will then be in a position to help push the world to a Levant including no Israel and a lot of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital.

    I think he probably thinks of himself as one of the Oligarchs of a new Socialist America over time, but I can’t quite figure his reaction when the Islamists begin to live up to their promise to fight to incorporate America into its growing Caliphate. My current thought runs along the line of “We really have been bad throughout our history, Mr. Crocodile, but could you please eat me last?…”

    • #25
  26. TeeJaw Inactive
    TeeJaw
    @TeeJaw

    It seems to me that all anybody needed to know that Obama has always intended all of the results of his policies was to have simply listened to what he said during his earlier life and to have believed that he meant it.  He made it perfectly clear that he did not like America as it is or was constituted and he intended to transform America into a weaker nation of the world with a more socialist domestic political economy.

    That’s why Rush Limbaugh said in 2009 that he hoped Obama would fail. He has not failed. He has been successful in doing most of what he always wanted to do and what he told us he would do.

    Obama did not fail, but the American people sure did.  The American people had a chance to prevent all of this, and they failed miserably.

    • #26
  27. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    An addendum to the above comment: I take my prejudice for my opinion based not only on Obama’s evident rabid anti-Zionism, but from his likely deep-seated anti-Semitism.

    How could it be otherwise when your spiritual adviser of 20 years said, in response to whether he had spoken with the President elected several months prior, “Them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me…”?

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OldBathos

    Be fair.  Obama and Kerry successfully fought to keep the special enforcement provisions intact: flying unicorns pooping all over the Iranians in the event of a breach.  Nobody wants to go there, so it will be a pretty effective deterrent.

    My biggest disappointment was the failure of our negotiators to get a good will commitment from the other side to use “Not-So-Bad Satan” or “Average Satan” in lieu of “Great Satan.”

    Don’t you wish you were as perceptive as Obama and could see past the hatred, overt behavior, express statements of contempt, horribly perverted ideology and murderous intent and see what great guys the Iranian leaders really are?

    • #28
  29. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Eeyore:

    Dorothea:

    …The Marxist-left’s long march through the institutions, resulting in our first Anti-American President.

    So, yes, Mona. Very witting. He is so Faculty Lounge ideological, so non-American ideological, that if Tel Aviv disappears in a mushroom cloud while he is still President, he will say that we will send humanitarian relief, but that Israel brought it upon themselves and we can’t intervene in a local conflict, particularly since the Israelis have treated the people of Palestine so poorly.

    I think there is a very broad avenue of possibility that (with back-channel co-ordination with Iran) when the ten year period is up. Obama will be UN Secretary General, Tel Aviv will disappear as above, and the same statements will be made. He will then be in a position to help push the world to a Levant including no Israel and a lot of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital.

    I think he probably thinks of himself as one of the Oligarchs of a new Socialist America over time, but I can’t quite figure his reaction when the Islamists begin to live up to their promise to fight to incorporate America into its growing Caliphate. My current thought runs along the line of “We really have been bad throughout our history, Mr. Crocodile, but could you please eat me last?…”

    Sadly Eeyore, I agree with this comment and your follow-up.  This President is pro-muslim, anti-Jewish, and his hate towards Israel is something that makes me sick to my stomach.

    • #29
  30. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Danny Alexander:#15 George Savage

    This:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obamas-u.n.-plan-backfires-on-congress/article/2568447

    Of course, this could all be just more of the usual Capitol Hill kabuki.

    The headline of that linked article is
    Obama’s U.N. plan backfires in Congress
    Interesting typo in the Examiner’s path name.

    • #30
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