Austin Bay

Yang certainly gives China diplomatic options. Beijing wants Turkey to curtail support for Turkic Uighur rebels in China's Xinjiang province. Turkey could read Clinton's Senate statement as a stinging rebuff of its multilateral efforts, or as a sellout, since Turkish diplomats claim senior U.S. officials (including Clinton) were in "constant contact" during negotiations with Iran. China thus positions itself to gain political advantage with Turkey and Brazil at American expense.

Despite Clinton's rousing testimony, what we have is diplomatic uncertainty if not chaos, and so time passes.

Uncertainty and chaos suit Tehran. For over a decade, Tehran's Khomeinist regime has pursued a policy of strategic delay, buying time to acquire what it regards as a make-or-break strategic technological edge: nuclear weapons. Nukes forward the regime's long-term strategic goal -- establishing Iran as an Islamic revolutionary power with global reach. Definitely grandiose, but the goal is a legacy of the Ayatollah Khomeini himself. The regime also believes brandishing nuclear warheads will buck up domestic political support by appealing to Iranian nationalism.

Since early 2009, the Obama administration has pursued a policy of multilateral engagement, with the goal of building international support for rigorous economic and political sanctions. Obama-type international multilateralism vis a vis Iran, however, has proved to be an unfocused amalgam of superficial processes.

Why? From the start, President Obama offered concessions, not focused leadership, in part because his own administration is riddled with multiculturalists from the academic left who think American power and strong, forceful American leadership are the source of the world's most wicked problems.

When Iranian dissidents began demonstrating in the wake of the fraudulent elections of June 2009, Obama had the opportunity to make time the enemy of Tehran's ayatollahs. He failed, however, to support Iranian modernizers and remains hesitant to use the truly powerful diplomatic tool of promoting democracy. Obama's preference for finger-wagging and strongly worded memos may command gray-haired profs with ponytails, but in the international arena his performance is kindergarten theatrics.

The Obama administration must change and provide real leadership by preparing for regime-ending military action, not just a nuclear program knockout. Until it does, the mullahs continue to play these self-proclaimed smart diplomats for the dummies they are.

Austin Bay

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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