Memorial Day Surprises Knock Props from Obama’s Diplomatic Overtures

Memorial Day Surprises Knock Props from Obama’s Diplomatic Overtures
By Leo Rennert

President Obama vowed to do a better job than George W. Bush by using diplomacy instead of wielding a big stick in dealing with hostile nations like Iran, North Korea and Syria. It hasn’t worked.

Obama pleaded with them to “unclench their fists” and promised to reward them with a softer, more deferential United States eager to atone for past bullying tactics. Thus, the President opted for more positive relations with the United Nations, extolled the virtues of multilateralism, and appointed high-level special envoys to Iran (Dennis Ross), to Afghanistan-Pakistan (Richard Holbrooke) and to Israel and the Palestinians (George Mitchell).

So far, however, there have been no takers for Obama’s entreaties. Just the opposite. The president’s charm offensive has had the opposite effect — a tougher, more belligerent tone, coupled with ominous muscle-flexing by the likes of Tehran and North Korea. The Taliban also ihs been riding high, while Pakistan falters.

On Memorial Day weekend, North Korea announced that it has conducted a “successful” nuclear test, which came at the heels of its recent test-firing of an advanced, long-range rocket over Japan, while Iranian President Adhmadinejad ruled out negotiations with Washington over his nuclear program Tehran in the meantime rattled more sabers by demonstrating that it could reach Israel, U.S. troops in the Mideast and portions of Europe with a new 2,000-kilometer-range missile.

While Obama places his bets on “soft” power to cajole Iran, North Korea and Syria away from threatening their neighbors, they see his agenda as appeasement and a license to create even more mischief. Ahmadinejad even managed to draw the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan to a three-way summit that signaled Iran’s clear intention to erode U.S. influence with Islamabad and Kabul.

In the Middle East, Syria is reasserting itself, fearing no adverse reactions from Washington. Obama’s diplomats returned empty-handed from Damascus. President Assad, who was supposed to be weaned away from Tehran, instead insists that Syria’s close alliance with Iran’s regime is non-negotiable, as are his harboring of Hamas’s terrorist leadership and his supply of weapons and other support to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

An emboldened Hezbollah, with full backing from Syria and Iran, is making a determined bid to emerge stronger than ever from upcoming Lebanese elections and recently planted terrorist cells in Egypt to challenge President Mubarak’s hold on power and his alliance with Washington.

Wherever Obama has tried to woo bellicose adversaries with his benign I’m-not-George-Bush strategy, he has been met with ever-more ominous rebuffs and direct challenges to American influence and interests.

Even as Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that he intends to pursue diplomatic overtures to rein in Iran’s nuclear program until the end of this year before moving to possible stronger measures, Ahmadinejad already has served notice that Obama is barking up the wrong tree — Iran is not about to abandon or slow down its drive to become a nuclear power. And Tehran’s determination not to be deflected from becoming a nuclear power is supported across the entire political spectrum — whether or not Ahmadinejad gets another term in upcoming elections.

Even in America’s own backyard, Obama has reaped nothing but snooty responses to his conciliatory gestures from the likes of Venezuelan President Chavez. Cuba’s Raul Castro pocketed Obama’s concession in easing travel restrictions, and now demands more such gestures as the price of normalizing relations

Given all these affronts to Obama’s diplomacy, the question now is how much longer will the president let himself be used as the favorite piñata of the world’s worst tyrants?

Page Printed from: at May 26, 2009 – 12:11:57 PM EDT

Iran’s Annihilation of Israel: Made in America

Iran’s Annihilation of Israel: Made in America
By: Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Obama may have held the first White House seder, but he’s not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.
From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu’s government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta, who recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel “read the riot act” to the government warning against an attack on Iran.

More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, “…we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the U.S. to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the U.S. will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy.”

She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that “as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran’s nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself.” She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel’s doing, not Iran’s.

In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.

Obama’s end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote “diplomacy without force is like music without instruments.” By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect, because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.

All this means is that Israel’s life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.

Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.

Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.

Obama may have held the first White House seder, but he’s not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.

Dick Morris is a former adviser to Bill Clinton. Eileen McGann is an attorney and CEO of Together, they collaborate on books, columns and foreign political campaigns. To receive free copies of all of their commentaries, please sign up at


By: Ben Johnson
Tuesday, May 26, 2009


North Korea detonates Obama’s inviting promises of appeasement.
Early yesterday morning, North Korea detonated the inviting promises of appeasement with earth-shattering force.

On May 25, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, allegedly of a 10-to-20 kiloton warhead. The blast registered a 4.52 on the Richter scale, only slightly higher than the 4.1 registered by the test of a less-than-one-kiloton warhead in October 2006. South Korean forces expect the North to test fire ground-to-ship missiles today.

…And thus came to pass the prophecy of Joe Biden, who exhorted attendees of a Seattle fundraiser late last October, “Mark my words, it willnot be six months before the world tests Barack Obama…Remember I said it standing here, if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

His mettle proved all-too malleable. It was Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso who called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which pushed through a non-binding resolution and a pledge to meet again to draft a binding one. Obama’s first statement merely told the nation that still calls itself the “Hermit Kingdom” its “behavior…will only serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation. It will not find international acceptance.” Later that morning, he rushed out a second statement, claiming DPRK missiles “pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world” and are “a blatant violation of international law.”

And then, according to the L.A. Times and the Drudge Report, he went golfing.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on a tour of Shanghai at the time of the explosion, told her hosts they “must use their influence to help bring North Korea to the table for the six party talks” – the same talks whose failure allowed North Korea to cement its place as a nuclear power…and which broke down last year because the North rightly suspected it could get a better deal from the Obama administration.(Near the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Madam Speaker pressed China hard – for lower carbon emissions, on the grounds “protecting the environment is a human rights issue”)

Brinksmanship, Blackmail, Backtracking, and Betrayal

North Korea’s nuclear detonation was less a test of his mettle than an inevitable response to cultivated weakness. Over the course of three administrations, the DPRK has perfect the cycle of brinksmanship, blackmail, backtracking, and betrayal. Yet none of its negotiating partners, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, has been so eager to oblige its interests as Barack Obama.

When North Korea first announced its nuclear intentions in 1994, President Clinton signed the Agreed Framework negotiated, in freelance fashion, by Jimmy Carter. Clinton would 500,000 metric tons of oil, more than $100 million in food aid (which the government seized to feed its million-man army), and spent billions building two light-water nuclear reactors. Analysts warned Kim Jong-il could produce enough nuclear material for a handful of weapons within ten years by simply busting the caps on the U.S.-funded reactors, and evidence mounted Pyongyang used these reactors for military as well as civilian purposes. As Clinton stalled, Kim pressed on, lobbing a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998, then denying U.S. inspectors access to a nuclear facility producing illicit material. Clinton rewarded this defiance with an additional 1.1 million tons of food worth nearly $200 million. Even on his way out of office in December 2000, Clinton sought a new round of appeasement for the DPRK.

President Bush fared little better. Reviled for “going it alone,” he outsourced negotiations concerning the nuclear concern to the multilateral, six-party talks. Condoleeza Rice and others convinced Bush to jettison his original firm stance following the last underground detonation in 2006. After Pyongyang filed a late, fictitious report of its activities, Bush simply agreed to accept the lie as fact; he rewarded deception by granting generous aid, helping transfer funds formerly held up in overseas banks, and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and producers of narcotics – all despite the fact that the new agreement lacked verification.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Carrot

However bad the situation had been, President Obama made matters materially worse. Republican criticism of offering talks without preconditions was not merely election rhetoric: preconditions are a two-way affair, and when one drops his own, gravity shifts toward fulfilling those of his enemy.

North Korea has already rejected two pre-emptive offers of direct, bilateral talks with the Obama administration, opting to school the appeaser-in-chief in the fine art of nuclear blackmail.

The Obama administration attempted to unveil the proverbial “reset button” with Pyongyang, as Hillary Clinton tried to coax Kim back to the six-party talks with the promise of a treaty and (more) aid. On the eve of her February visit to Seoul, the worker’s paradise threatened to test a Taepodong-2 missile and declared itself “fully ready for an all-out confrontation” with South Korea, yet Madam Secretary told the Asia Society:

If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.

She helpfully suggested Kim Jong-il “avoid any provocative action or unhelpful rhetoric toward South Korea.” (Like Nancy Pelosi, she too wanted to renew military contacts with China but had tough rhetoric for Beijing on carbon emissions.)

The DPRK responded with harassment and missile fire. It arrested two American journalists, who face “trial” next month. More troubling to international security, the regime tested its long-range Taepodong-2 missile, again over Japanese airspace. That month in Prague, Obama asserted, “All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime” to confront Pyongyang. However, the UN Security Council responded by passing a non-binding resolution calling on members to begin following the measures set out in Resolution 1718, passed nearly three years earlier, which members had ignored. (Eventually three companies faced sanctions.) Obama deemed this a “clear and united message.”

That it was.

According to the South Korean media, North Korea immediately began building or rebuilding nuclear sites. The North openly vowed it “will never again take part in such talks and will not be bound by any agreement reached at the talks.” Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month, Hillary called the North’s return to the negotiating table “implausible.”

Obama hoped to make the implausible come to pass by offering bilateral talks in early May, which North Korea again rejected. Obama’s Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen W. Bosworth has made several entreaties for a tête-à-tête in Pyongyang, only to be refused. Earlier this month a bewildered Bosworth pleaded, “President Obama has stressed on numerous occasions that the door to dialogue remains open [and] that we are committed to resolving the problems that we face through negotiation and dialogue. So I don’t think that we can be interpreted as having a hostile policy.” Indeed, he does not have a hostile policy to nuclear blackmail, betrayal, and brinksmanship. That is the problem.

The inevitable response to American weakness came yesterday, and possibly today. The North is in its brinksmanship mode. It will likely return to blackmail, once succession issues are settled over Kim Jong-il’s dead or incapacitated body. However, all candidates to become the next Beloved Leader know the louder the saber-rattling, the more desperate the cries for silence – and the richer the benefits offered. If Obama will offer direct, bilateral talks without any prodding whatever, more plunder can be exacted in due time. The nuclear test also leaves the hermit kingdom more capable of selling its publicly tested wares on the black market to Syria, Iran, or other anti-American states.

As Obama struggles to cobble together a response – beyond “Fore!” – a dangerous world grows more deadly on his watch. Iran has sent six warships into international waters, and last week it completed a test of the Sejil-2 missile, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates verified as “successful.” The new generation missile, an improvement over its Shahab predecessors, has a range of 1,200-1,500 miles, putting Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf in range. Rather than take harsh measures against Tehran’s genocidal theocrats, Obama has given them one year to continue their nuclear program before any hint of a reckoning; coincidentally, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told ABC’s This Week program on Sunday Iran could have a nuclear warhead within “one to three years.” Following North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad rejected a “freeze-for-freeze” offer, halting its nuclear program in return for an assurance the West will pursue no further sanctions. He responded, “The nuclear issue is finished for us,” adding, “countries like America are not able to manage the political atmosphere.”

In nuclear brinksmanship, North Korea has finally found an export industry. In the Obama administration, the two rogue states have found either a willing subsidizer or an oblivious enabler.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving (2004).