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TAUBE: Will President Obama ever learn?
There are days when I honestly think President Obama's uninspiring leadership can't sink any lower. Time and time again, he proves me wrong.
This week, Mr. Obama has reportedly held out the possibility of an unscheduled meeting at the United Nations with, of all people, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. He even went so far as to praise Iran's supposed desire for a "more moderate course" at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, and opened up the possibility of diplomatic discourse.
White House spokesman Jay Carney recently told reporters, "It has long been the position of President Obama ... that he would, as president, be willing to have bilateral negotiations with the Iranians, provided that the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community's insistence that they give up their nuclear-weapons programs." Mr. Carney also said an Obama-Rouhani meeting was "possible, but it has always been possible."
"The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn into office," he added.
It sounds like a loaded statement, doesn't it? Unfortunately, Mr. Carney is correct. Over the years, this president has made various comments in support of holding meetings with the enemies of freedom and democracy.
During Mr. Obama's first presidential campaign in 2008, he told an Oregon audience, "Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."
A fascinating analysis, and a terribly inaccurate one.
Was the old Soviet Union larger than Iran, Cuba and Venezuela? Yes, by a long shot. However, as Mark Twain once said, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Whereas the USSR was a large, concentrated enemy during the Cold War, the rapid rise of international terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, helped cast a much wider net of enemies in many midsized countries. Iran, one of the charter members of the axis of evil and a totalitarian state with an emerging nuclear capability, is therefore a far more significant threat than Mr. Obama cares to publicly admit.
Mr. Rouhani's leadership also raises a lofty red flag.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Mr. Rouhani (who replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president in August) wildly claimed that Israel was "an occupier, a usurper government that does injustice to the people of the region" and that the Jewish state "has brought instability to the region with its warmongering policies."
Iranians "do not seek war with any country," he said. "We seek peace and friendship among the nations of the region." He sure has a strange way of showing it.
This shiny, new political face of Iran appears to be just as vicious and hateful as the previous tyrant. To borrow a couple of lyrics from the legendary rock band The Who, "Meet the new boss — same as the old boss." Lest I forget, the name of the song I'm quoting from is rather apropos: "Won't Get Fooled Again."
It's quite apparent that Iran doesn't want to make peace with the United States — or any other Western nation, for that matter. It will not going to give up its nuclear weapons anytime soon, either.
If Mr. Obama ever has this controversial meeting with Mr. Rouhani, he'd open up a bigger Pandora's box than the Syrian air-strike kerfuffle that would be virtually impossible to shut. In turn, the United States would look incredibly weak in the eyes of countries that hate democracy and support terrorism.
In light of Iran's potential nuclear threat, its multitude of anti-West, anti-U.S. and anti-Israel comments over the decades, its hatred of democracy and human rights, and its support of international terrorism, no American president should ever want to consider meeting with an Iranian president. Alas, Mr. Obama's modus operandi with respect to domestic- and foreign-policy matters defies logic and reason.
When will this president ever learn? The day after he leaves the White House, I guess.
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a contributor to The Washington Times.
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