Contrary to the president’s conviction, expressed peevishly in his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, that his problems are due to a cable news outlet or to the intractable GOP, it is in fact reality that perpetually rains on his parade.

A resident searches through rubble at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo February 5, 2014. (REUTERS/Hosam Katan)
A resident searches through rubble at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood of Aleppo. (Hosam Katan/Reuters)

On the domestic front, it’s not the GOP or Fox News — although both enjoy it — that caused the many-faceted Obamacare debacle. The real culprit, rather, is Obama’s own faulty policy. We now see the consequences of a huge, overreaching government colossus tramping through the economy and bumping up against the inherent limitations of the government welfare state.

In foreign policy, Obama’s administration has treated Israel, Congress, and American pro-Israel groups as the enemy. He insults, berates and tries to ignore those urging a more vigorous presence in the Middle East. But his foreign policy problems largely stem from his inadequate policies (or lack thereof) that bounce off the armor of dictators.

The Iran fiasco is just beginning to play out. Obama “won” the sanctions fight by getting Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats to sit on sanctions legislation even they knew was necessary to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons. But the problem isn’t Congress; it is the Iranians.

The Tower Web site quotes Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, as saying: “If you look at the word ‘dismantle’ and you look at it in the dictionary, dismantle means to take apart and try to put it into pieces, equipment. Well, you can come and see whether our nuclear sites, nuclear equipment and nuclear facilities are dismantled or not. The only thing we have stopped and suspended — and that is voluntarily — is the production of 20 percent enriched uranium, and that’s it.” Hmm. Could it be Iran now feels emboldened and less likely to comply with the West’s demands? Could be, judging from more of his remarks:

Of course, there is another thing that we have undertaken; we have committed ourselves not to install main equipment, which have been defined as to what those main equipments [sic] are in the Arak 40 megawatt heavy water reactor. The nuclear facilities are functioning; our enrichment is proceeding, it’s doing its work, it’s producing the 5 percent enriched uranium and those centrifuges that stopped producing the 20 percent will be producing 5 percent enriched uranium. In other words our production of 5 percent [uranium] will increase. The entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on. Centrifuges that were used for the production of 20 percent, they will be used now for producing 5 percent enriched uranium.

Yes, the Iranians have a very different idea about the interim agreement and, correspondingly, no sense of urgency about dismembering its illicit weapons program. The Iranian official therefore feels comfortable bragging that it would take Iran only “a few hours” to resume its previous enrichment activities.

At least someone has noticed that Obama is sliding into dangerous waters. Peter Foster of the Telegraph in London notes that U.S. senators who feared the relaxation of sanctions would bolster Iran’s economy and eliminate the incentive for a deal were right after all. He writes that “there are signs that the pragmatist’s analysis has turned out to be correct. First it emerged last month that Russia was engaged in negotiating a $1.5 billion-a-month backdoor trade/barter deal. Then, this week, a group 116 of France’s top businessmen, including representatives from companies like Renault, Total and Airbus, visited Tehran on a trade mission offering further evidence that market expectation is picking up: when German CEO’s see their French counterparts racing to Tehran to get first dibs on any deals, you can bet they won’t be far behind.” Just as  a number of Obama critics predicted, the market psychology is changed and with it the economic pinch that got Iran to the table in the first place.

Foster notes that the U.S. strategy “is like playing poker and warning your fellow players in advance just how big a bet they need to make in order to bluff you into folding your hand. Iran wants economic relief — it’s why they came to the table — and the best time to have asked for something substantial in return was when they were at their most needy.” And also, as doubters anticipated, the six-month time limit for a final deal turns out to be flexible in the hands of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (“officials from both sides privately soften the ground for the talks running over the initial six months”).

So the problem wasn’t Congress or Israel or even the pro-Israel advocates whom the White House labeled warmongers before pulling back. It was the gross inadequacies of Obama’s policies and the president’s fundamental misconception about whom we are negotiating with that is leading us to a choice between war or a nuclear-armed Iran. (Three guesses which one the president will choose.)

The most gruesome example of Obama’s casual relationship with reality has to be Syria, whom the president has struggled to ignore. Give no real support to the rebels. Rub out the red line on use of weapons of mass destruction. Allow Bashar al-Assad to slow-walk compliance with the WMD deal. Shrug at the sight of tens of thousands more killed by conventional means. And then expect Bashar al-Assad to agree at a “peace conference” to leave power?

Obama, again, averts his eyes. He must imagine that Assad could be talked into leaving —  and Obama would  thereby get “Syria civil war and mass atrocities” off his intelligence reports. All he had to do was look.

Sohrab Ahmari of the Wall Street Journal did just that, and this is what he found:

The depravity of the Assad regime seemingly has no limit. Last month some 55,000 photographs appeared documenting the industrial-scale torture, starvation and execution of thousands of detainees by the regime. . . .The Wall Street Journal editorial page has now obtained additional photographs that appear to belong to the same batch. The brutality depicted in these photographs is almost beyond description: The corpses of detainees lie atop one another, their emaciated limbs contorted in apparent agony; the bodies invariably show extensive bruising and abrasions; jaws are dislocated; eyes are gouged out.

He concludes dryly, “The first round of Geneva II came to an inconclusive end last week. The Obama administration insists the opposition must sit down with the butcher Assad when talks resume on February 10.” Yes, only someone (or an entire administration) in deep denial would believe that our “policy” in the face of such savagery would lead to a positive result.

Obama, it seems, would prefer faux enemies (Fox News, Republicans, pro-Israel advocates) to the real ones — and for good reason. Fully comprehending the nature of the regimes with which he is dealing would require an entirely different approach than the ones he pursues (evasion, appeasement, etc.). Reality, you see, would demand real policies designed to curb and eliminate threats from rogue regimes.

 

 

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.