On 18 April I distributed a Commentary on the apparent expansion in Iran’s involvement in the Middle East and a critique by a US political commentator of Obama’s policies on the Middle East and other foreign policy issues (see my website at www.ipe.net.au). This critique suggested that Obama believes the US should cease or heavily reduce its role as a world leader. The basis of this view is said to be Obama’s belief that America is widely regarded as a threat and his (weird) judgement that action to reduce or eliminate that threat will somehow allow the rest of the world to prosper – and so too America. I also referred to an article from the Wall St Journal (published in The Australian) providing a similar perspective but based on statements by the head of CIA, John Brennan, who was appointed by Obama in 2012 after Petraeus retired. Written by former US Attorney General, Mukasey, and a senior legal adviser to a Congressional security committee, the article refers to Brennan’s public rejection of criticism of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran. This led Mukasey to the view that, as Brennan could not be trusted to accurately report on Iran, Congress should establish a “Team B” of intelligence analysts which could provide such reports.
Such critical analyses of Obama have been taken further in an editorial published in the Wall St Journal on 19 April. This is set out below but has not been published in The Australian and the apparent criticisms of Obama have not appeared anywhere either. The gist of the editorial is that, in the so-called nuclear deal with Iran, Obama has made concessions which are not only inconsistent with the US summary of the negotiated framework accord but (alarmingly) would allow Tehran to “retain the facilities and means to develop a bomb at the moment of its choosing”. The editorial might be said to confirm that Obama has ceased to present America as a world leader supporting western values. Iranian leaders are not the only ones to take advantage of this situation: Putin clearly has too in Ukraine and by agreeing to send Iran a defence system which makes air strikes much more difficult. Reflecting his duplicity, Obama is reported as “playing down” the Russian decision.
It is obviously important to try to understand how Obama has developed this naive and dangerous view. This is attempted in the attached analysis written by a former senior director of the US National Security Council and published by the Hudson Institute in February. Headed “Obama’s Iran Strategy” it suggests that Obama sought right from the start of his Presidency to establish a “comprehensive agreement” with Iran and to do that in complete secrecy. Indeed, despite the apparent importance to Obama of an accommodative policy on relations with Iran, none has been published.
The article provides a fascinating analysis of how Obama attempted to develop policies which would help achieve his agreement objective and how he responded to the various obstacles which have arisen during his Presidency. These include obstacles established by Iran itself, possibly because they perceived that Obama was so eager to conclude an agreement that they could secure the kind of concessions he is now making on the nuclear deal. The article shows that Obama epitomizes and adds to the general belief that statements by politicians cannot be believed – one saying, which emerged about Obama’s reported manipulation of the Inland Revenue Service at the time of his re-election, was Why You Can’t Trust the White House (Even If Nobody’s Lying).
The article observes that Obama responded to the unexpected onslaught by Islamic State (which led initially to a fall in his foreign policy approval ratings) by suggesting that he had a “longer-run play” and that Iran would be involved. Then, with US air strikes (with Iranian) against IS, the sending of more US troops to train Iraqi soldiers, and the Iranian involvement with Iraqis to take back Takrit, Obama effectively used the IS onslaught to present the idea that a relationship with Iran is needed. Yet it must be doubted whether there is any substantial difference between the Islamic extremism of IS and that of Iran.
The attached article runs to 12 pages and takes some time to absorb and assess. To me it, along with others to which I have referred, provides an assessment of the US under Obama which is seriously concerning.