Obama's "no preconditions" pitch was part of a cynical campaign ploy a fawning press corps trumpeted. Recall Obama promised "smart diplomacy" and accused the Bush administration of failing to use diplomatic means.
What blarney. Ambassador Ryan Crocker's congressional testimony in September 2007 addressed Iran's diplomatic intransigence. After Gen. David Petraeus told Congress that "militia extremists" in Iraq were directed "by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps' Quds Force," Crocker provided his insight.
When Rep. Tom Lantos, in a dismissive and arrogant tone, asked Crocker if the U.S. would pursue diplomacy with Iran, Crocker replied that he had talked with the Iranians, and "the conclusion I came away with after a couple of rounds was that the Iranians were only interested in the appearance of discussion, of being seen at the table with the U.S. instead of actually doing serious business."
Crocker provided Obama and his media entourage with a teaching moment -- but it was ignored, or worse, castigated as propaganda, to the detriment of Iran's own oppressed people and everyone seeking to avoid a nuclear war in the Middle East.
Is Obama finally educable? Does he understand the threat presented by Khomeinists with nuclear arms? Does he understand a summit with an American president is a political coup for dictators, and granting one should require concessions from noxious regimes? Until the thugs make them, keep direct discussions at low or unofficial levels -- like George W. Bush did.
Clinton's hype of old news does provide cover for a policy shift by the administration.
Let's hope that change is coming. Petraeus, following Clinton's statement, said the U.S. has put Iran on a "pressure track." Good. The Green Movement opposition needs support. Sanctions that truly sanction are difficult without Russian and Chinese blessings. That means Obama must prepare for military strikes on nuclear sites.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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