September 25 2013

U.N. Scorecard: Rouhani, 1; Obama, 0

Charlotte Hays

President Obama likes to say he was elected not to start wars but to end them.

But he behaves as if he was elected to lecture the world. Has ever a man been so enamored by the sound of his own voice?   

Unfortunately, into his fifth year of lecturing the world, he is sounding tinny. The world is taking him less seriously. But there he was yesterday, at the U.N., where high-living representatives of oppressive regimes fed on a luncheon of tuna tartar and veal osso bucco, talking.

A less vain man would be embarrassed after his Syria debacle. The speech was mush, but mush coming from a president of the United States. Elliot Abrams points out that the president never made the case for freedom and democracy. Obama’s most fatuous claim at the U.N. yesterday: “The world is more stable than it was five years ago.” The president generously “gave himself kudos” for this.

The U.K. Telegraph’s Nike Gardiner writes:     

Americans don’t generally eat mushy peas, a staple of British fish and chip shops. But US foreign policy under Barack Obama certainly resembles it. The president’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday was as soggy as it gets, with Mr. Obama extending the hand of friendship to Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani. In his UN address, President Obama was eager to recycle the propaganda flowing out of Tehran in recent weeks, with the White House making a rapprochement with Iran the centerpiece of its Middle East strategy.

The president said:

The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon… I want to be clear we are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course. And given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government in close cooperation with the European Union — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Does the president really believe that the tyrannized people of Iran have given Rouhani a mandate—or anything other than their coerced votes? Does he really believe that Iran has decided in the face of sanctions to end its nuclear weapons program?

President Obama, of course, is not the only naïf when it comes to Rouhani. I flipped past a PBS news station to hear a BBC reporter saying yesterday that some of the tougher elements in Rouhani’s speech before the U.N. show that there is “still” distrust between Iran and the U.S. Still? Even after Rouhani’s “carefully crafted letter” in the Washington Post last week, which Gardiner correctly dismisses as “nothing more than a PR exercise.”

For his part, Rouhani declined a proffered handshake with the “eager” American president. In an editorial entitled "He's Just Not that Into You," the Wall Street Journal comments:

What the Administration is trying to spin as a function of complex Iranian politics was, in blunt fact, an expression of lordly contempt for what Iranian leaders consider to be an overeager suitor from an unworthy nation.

The contempt showed even more strongly in Mr. Rouhani's speech. That came a few hours after Mr. Obama's morning speech, in which the American promised Iran that "we are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy." ….

Politics in the normal sense doesn't exist in Tehran, where the rules are set and the players chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who is accountable to nobody. What Iran's leaders do understand is how to humiliate adversaries they consider to be weak. We hope Mr. Obama appreciates how he has been schooled.  

Fat chance.

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