Il Giornale, September 25, 2013
Obama’s balancing act: Playing the lion with Syria and the lamb with Iran
Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds
2013-09-30 by Fiamma Nirestein
Perhaps as they say in English, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds: that’s a good way for President Obama to define his speech yesterday at the General Assembly of the UN. Everyone was waiting for it, especially since Obama had announced that it would redefine US policy in the Middle East after so many mistakes and misunderstandings. It was an important speech because right now no one is more decisive than the USA in confronting mass terrorism and the so-called "charm offensive" of the ever-smiling new Iranian President Rouhani. But Obama introduced just one innovation when, at several points in his speech, he mentioned that he is resolved to defend American interests in the world, even suggesting that he might also be prepared to resort to [the use of] weapons. He said it four times, making a clear enough reference to strategic (against a nuclear Iran) and humanitarian interests, but also to oil interests. That was the hunt with the hounds. The run with the hare took the form of an entire hymn to peace and negotiation. If, for example, he had embraced the concept of military [intervention] with Syria after the use of Sarin gas, he eventually credited the Russians for making it possible to take a diplomatic approach. But, running with the hare, the matter isn’t over; if Assad isn’t serious about handing over [his] chemical weapons, that can be reconsidered. The one-sided attack doesn’t worry us, because the UN doesn’t always go for it. But he immediately added: surely now the Security Council must instead promise collective participation if the agreements are not observed.
On the subject of Iran, Obama played the role of Obama himself: docile, subjugated by an inexorable ethnocentric vision that doesn’t suggest to him the lawfulness of the Islamic falsehood for its own people and its own God. The President thus opened a diplomatic channel with Iran that didn’t exist until now: he’s announced that he’s instructed John Kerry to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, he’s declared his sympathy for the people who chose a leader like Rouhani. He has completely put aside [the fact] that every Islamist, whether Shi’ite or Sunni, looks with admiration, albeit admiration coupled with partisan hatred, upon the worldwide terrorism perpetrated by Iran, upon its Hezbollah militias, [and] upon aid to Syria. He’s also said (poor political prisoners, incarcerated journalists, women condemned to Shariah punishments for not segregating themselves enough, hanged homosexuals) that he’s not at all happy with the change of regime. On the nuclear [issue], contrary to all historical evidence that tells us the Iranians have often pretended to negotiate in order to buy time, contrary to the fact that it’s now a matter of months, Obama has expressed the hope that the novelty of Rouhani might open up a new path to world stability. He then did some big talking: in establishing America’s priorities, with all his exclamations about human rights, with his concern about Al Qaeda’s terrorist war, he also placed stopping the bomb on the same level as (hunting with the hounds) the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, for [the sake of] stability and for American interests (but, running with the hare, the Iranians surely have the right to peaceful nuclear [power]).
What’s that, Mr. President? You have Syria, where dozens of people are still being killed every day; in Kenya the terrorists killed a hundred people yesterday; this year about 5,000 Iraqis died in the terrorist clash between Shi’as and Sunnis; in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Afghanistan the deaths of innocent civilians killed in terrorist attacks trace the lines of a real war over borders, ethnicity, religion, natural resources, the best terrorist attack and the most effective aggression against the West. There is a flood of refugees, children have no childhood, women are segregated, all the rules of civil and military conduct are violated, the borders of states drawn in 1916 have been obliterated, and [yet] Obama imagines that what’s at the origin of the instability in the Middle East is the Israel-Palestinian conflict? Iran and Israel together as world problems are certainly an example of a Nobel-Prize-worthy act of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Is that a faux pas?
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale; English copyright, The Gatestone Institute