Well, it’s a good thing we don’t have an embassy in Tehran—if we had an embassy there and it was attacked, as the British embassy was yesterday, the president would no doubt find it “unacceptable.”
Then he might go on to say something like this:
"For rioters to essentially be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously," the president said.
Priceless. The Iranian regime is not taking its international obligations seriously? Seriously? President Obama seems bound and determined to pretend that he doesn’t understand that the attackers were acting on behalf of the regime. I also love that "essentially." Ditto "indication."
The attackers are members of the Basij militia, described in the Wall Street Journal as volunteers loyal to the Islamic government. (Here and here.) Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei followed up the attack with some anti-U.K. rhetoric. The immediate cause of the riots was tougher sanctions imposed by the U.K.
The Wall Street Journal noted that the attack on the embassy “marked a serious escalation of Iran's confrontation with the West and a blow to the country's efforts to counter accusations its government isn't rational in the face of charges ranging from a military nuclear plan to terror plots and human-rights abuses, all of which Iran rejects.”
President Obama is practicing the foreign policy of wistful thinking. Our president is "concerned" and indeed seems disappointed as if he thought the Iranian regime was better than this. But he can’t quite summon whatever it takes to at least call the attacks “disgraceful,” as British Prime Minister David Cameron did yesterday.
This is not to say that we should rattle sabers or talk of military action today. But it is to say that U.S. foreign policy is now led by a man who appears to live in a fantasy world in which Messrs. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad will come to their senses if only Professor Obama reminds them of their “international obligations.”
President Obama came into office believing that if the U.S., a country with much to apologize for (and, believe me, he’s apologized for a lot), would just be nicer, despots would respond. Obama put considerable stock in his own charm, too.
This hasn’t worked out so well.
The U.S. is more hated than ever in Pakistan. Thomas Donnelly says in the Weekly Standard that Iran may be well on its way to shifting the balance of power in the Middle East it its favor. Elliot Abrams urges the U.S. to take up French President Sarkozy’s call for new sanctions against Iran on “an unprecedented scale” that could have real impact on the country’s economy. Abrams writes:
The Obama administration did not respond to Sarkozy’s proposal. Cynics (I am one) will wonder if the administration just doesn’t want any trouble with Iran in an upcoming election year. This would be extremely foolish and lose what it ought to see as a final chance to avoid the choice between an Iranian bomb and bombing Iran.
Let us hope that the administration is acting behind the scenes. But it would also be nice if the president gave the impression of not living in a dream world.