The Obama administration's naive infatuation with "direct talks" and its belief in equivocal sanctions are at odds with reality. Four years of United Nations sanctions have produced no results. The "open hand" and "mutual respect" Obama offered Tehran in 2009 have yielded nothing. Last year, the so-called negotiations -- with the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China on one side of the table and the Iranians on the other -- collapsed in Istanbul when Tehran refused to continue talking as long as any sanctions remained in place.
Though new sanctions -- such as those mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act -- appear to be onerous, the deterrent effects on Iranian nuclear ambitions are doubtful at best. According to the new law, on Feb. 29, the Obama administration is supposed to bar international banks that do "any significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran" from access to U.S. banking institutions. But enforcement is up to the O-Team -- an outfit not exactly known for adhering to the letter of the law.
And now some of our "allies" are getting cold feet on cutting their access to Iranian oil; the second phase of NDAA sanctions are due to kick in June 28. No one really expects Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea or Cuba to play ball. But this week, France, India, Turkey and South Korea all protested that the new sanctions could adversely affect their economic recovery from a lengthy recession and that they need "more time" to find alternative sources to replace the Iranian oil they have already contracted to buy.
Time is what the Iranians want most of all. Like the North Koreans, who built nuclear weapons while starving their own people, the ayatollahs have figured out how to build such devices. Their determination to do so was unabated by the Stuxnet computer worm. They have not been stopped by the violent, untimely demise of five nuclear experts. All Tehran's masters of deceit and delay need is time. They knew before we did that the threat of supposedly harsh sanctions was undercut by an election-year diplomatic gambit for direct negotiations in Obama's "secret letter."
The effect of White House ambivalence and incompetence is that Iran -- the world's foremost purveyor of terror -- will acquire nuclear weapons in the days ahead. When that happens, reopening the Strait of Hormuz to ensure the world's supply of energy will become a perilous affair.
On Jan. 18, the Obama White House doubled down on this lunacy and pulled the plug on the Keystone pipeline connecting oil fields in western Canada to refineries in Texas. In a blatant pander for votes from environmental radicals, Obama sold out hopes for improving U.S. energy security, guaranteed higher fuel costs for all of us and eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. All this should be a red line for American voters.
Oliver North is the host of “War Stories” on FOX News Channel. This weekend, “Red Tails: The Saga of the Tuskegee Airmen” will show the true story of the fighter pilots and aircrews who broke the “color barrier” in World War II.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.