- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The multinational negotiations held over the weekend in Turkey with the ostensible purpose of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program will be followed by - drum roll - yet another round of talks in late May. Not surprisingly, the Iranian regime is calling this diplomatic exercise “a success.”

Indeed, it is from Iran’s perspective. The Persians are, after all, the people who invented chess. They have the Obama administration and the rest of the “international community” right where such strategically minded folks with a gift for besting their interlocutors want them: talking, seemingly endlessly.

The Iranians know that as long as the United States and the other members of the Perm 5-plus-1 - diplo-speak for the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France and the mullahs’ patron/protectors, Russia and China) and Germany - are engaged in a diplomatic dance, they will insist that Israel not take matters into its own hands and strike Iran.

The predictable effect will be to give Tehran the time it needs to complete its long-standing bid to get the bomb, even as President Obama’s campaign flaks and foreign-policy acolytes congratulate him on skillfully managing the vexing Iranian portfolio.

Such a posture reminds me of the old cowboy put-down of someone who is “all hat and no cattle.” If ever there was a case of someone who is good at the hat bit - talking big, gesticulating forcefully - but abysmal at the business of delivering, it is Mr. Obama.

Sadly, the Iranian debacle is not the only example of Team Obama’s all-hat-no-cattle foreign policy. A small sample of the most important of such behaviors would include:

c A reset with Russia that has amounted to nothing more than a serial giveaway to the Kremlin on missile defense, nuclear deterrence and the political cover the Russians persist in providing rogue states such as North Korea, Iran and Syria. One can only imagine how much worse this will get if the president gets re-elected and can be even more “flexible” on such matters than he has been to date.

c Coddling of China, even as it arms to the teeth with weapons designed to attack American forces and infrastructure - a number of which weapons have emerged to the complete surprise of U.S. intelligence. In the face of such developments, to say nothing of what amount to acts of war as sustained Chinese-government-linked hacker attacks on public- and private-sector computer networks, the Obama administration has maintained what can only be described as a cordially accommodating, business-as-usual approach to Beijing.

c Ignoring the strategic implications of the impending demise of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. The president’s participation at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend could have been an opportunity to forge a hemispheric commitment to democracy in Venezuela. At the very least, the United States could have put down a strong marker in opposition to the prospective hijacking of that long-suffering country by the narco-generals Mr. Chavez has put into power as his cancer metastasizes. In this case, even the president’s big hat was obscured by the scandal involving his womanizing Secret Service detail.

c Perhaps most worrisome of all is Team Obama’s recent and intensifying engagement with the virulently anti-American and anti-infidel Muslim Brotherhood. Far from contributing to democracy in Egypt and regional peace with Israel, the administration’s appalling conduct has made the prospect for either, let alone both, substantially worse. That conduct includes: opening formal relations with a group whose declared purpose is “destroying Western civilization from within,” feting a Brotherhood delegation in Washington, turning over to the Brotherhood-led Egyptian government in one lump-sum payment $1.5 billion in military assistance, and doling out an additional $180-plus million to the Brotherhood’s franchise in “Palestine,” Hamas, which is partnered with the Palestinian Authority in a unity government there.

The all-hat-no-cattle policy is advancing the three practical effects of the Obama Doctrine: emboldening our enemies, undermining our friends and diminishing our country.

Speaking of friends, press reports are circulating in the wake of the weekend’s negotiations with Iran that Israel reportedly is about to strike the Islamic republic. If true, it’s deeply regrettable that such early warning is being given to the Iranians.

But the prospect that the Obama administration has every intention of allowing the Iranians to run out the clock leaves the Israelis with no choice but to attack if they are to stave off an existential threat to their people. We should be helping them do that, not helping the mullahs - and not encouraging still other enemies of this country - actual and prospective - believe that the costs of taking us on are minimal thanks to our all-hat-no-cattle administration.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on 1260 AM.