Considering how easy it would be for the Iranian regime to get everything it wants from the current administration, it's a little startling to see the "supreme leader" brazenly poking his finger into the president's eye. President Barack Obama's fond hopes - nurtured since before his first inauguration - to forge a new, better relationship with the "Islamic Republic" have come to this:
Speaking to a large crowd assembled to mark the 25th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death, "Supreme Leader" Ali Khamenei declared his continuing belief that America is the Great Satan. "Battle and jihad are endless," he said. "This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors' front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought." Arrayed behind the cleric was a banner reading, "America cannot do a damn thing!"
If you're wondering what Khamenei meant by that (and you may if you're an Obama appointee or a State Department official), Khamenei was good enough to explain: "They have renounced the idea of any military actions."
Khamenei was responding directly to the president's West Point speech in which he signaled American reluctance to use military force. "Just because we have the best hammer does not mean every problem is a nail," Obama told the cadets. He went further, urging that all of our recent troubles are attributable to "rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences." The president spoke so long and so intently about renouncing military action and winding down wars that Khamenei got the message loud and clear. Obama also included his threadbare threat that "we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" - now a bleat. Khamenei's answer was written on that banner.
Khamenei knows that far from considering any sort of military strike against Iran, Obama has worked assiduously to prevent Congress from imposing any further sanctions.
My good friend and colleague Jay Nordlinger reminds me of Frederick the Great's admonition that "Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments." It's an insight that eludes this administration, which persists in the delusion that diplomacy and military force are opposite poles. National security adviser Susan Rice told the Israelis last month that "diplomacy is the best way to stop Iran's nuclear program."
The president echoed this, saying "for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable than we could have achieved through the use of force."
Iran has excellent reasons to trust that Obama will make a very bad deal on its nuclear program. These include Obama's repeated "greetings" and other expressions of friendship, his unwillingness to condemn the regime during the democracy protests of 2009, his agreement to release the worst Guantanamo Bay detainees, his retreat from the "red line" threat against Bashar Assad, his timidity in the face of Russian adventurism, his cuts to military spending, his passive response to the Chinese declaration of an "air defense zone" in the South China Sea, and even his limp response to Cuba's prolonged imprisonment of State Department contractor Alan Gross.
Even after five years in office, years that have seen Iran brutally suppress peaceful protesters, torture and kill political prisoners, persecute religious minorities, ship arms to terrorist groups, and prop up the genocidal regime of Assad in Syria, which has now killed an estimated 100,000 people (and by the way, how is Obama's Atrocities Prevention Board handling that?), Obama clings to the notion that Iran can be trusted to abandon its nuclear weapons program if we just concoct the right words on paper in Geneva.
Iran, sitting atop a pool of oil and gas, does not need nuclear power for energy generation. It has spent a fortune building a network of secret underground uranium-enrichment facilities. It has invested in ballistic-missile technology. It has withstood international pressure and sanctions to build a plutonium plant that can only be used for nuclear weapons fuel. And Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Javad Zarif, has declared that Iran has an "inalienable right" to enrich uranium.
Far from delivering a rebuke to this disgusting hijacking of Thomas Jefferson's words by a criminal regime, Obama responds with conciliatory drivel about negotiations.
When former President Ronald Reagan appointed Jeane Kirkpatrick as U.S. envoy to the U.N., he gave these marching orders: "You're taking off that big sign that we used to wear that said, 'Kick Me.'"