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."