President Obama Friday added more steel to his Iran policy, clearing the way for harsher sanctions on Tehran even though it will probably raise oil prices a bit and continue his political hurt at the pump.
Let’s be clear, a few pennies more at the tank would not have been as bad as having the Republicans blast him for not guarding the nation’s security. But still, it’s clear Obama is moving along the right path, if belatedly, in trying to rid Iran of its nuclear program.
I have no doubt that only military action will force Iran to relinquish a goal it has pursued for 30 years. But Obama’s move is also consistent with an attempt to demonstrate to the world that everything possible was done peaceably before the bombing begins, whether by us or the Israelis.
And I’m not so sure, as I’ve written in the past, that it won’t be by us. One of Obama’s cherished goals, though not particularly one of his most realistic ones, is ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Once the Mullahbomb is operational, the dream is over, because Iran will never give them up, and places like Saudi Arabia will suddenly launch “peaceful” nuclear energy programs to counter the threat.
Obama gave me a sense during remarks in South Korea this week that he might actually have already established a deadline for military action, even if only in his own head. He echoed the types of comments George W. Bush made in the run up to attacking an enemy. Obama said:
It is always my preference to solve these issues diplomatically. But time is short. Iran’s leaders must understand they, too, face a choice. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands.
Obama will also have to put into storage his native naïveté about the intentions of bad guys and not let Iran string us along with talk until they suddenly test a nuclear device. The Israelis, in this case, will keep him from straying too far out of the real world.