Washington Post: Obama Waffling on Iran

The Washington Post castigated President Barack Obama in an editorial Friday for sending Iran “the wrong signals” in the showdown over its nuclear weapons program.

Obama and Ahmadinejad.

Obama and Ahmadinejad.

“Iran has been showing signs of increasing nervousness about the possibility that its nuclear program will come under attack by Israel or the United States,” the editorial opined. “From the West’s point of view, this alarm is good: The more Iran worries about a military attack, the more likely it is to scale back its nuclear activity.”

“What doesn’t make sense is a public spelling out of reasons against military action — like that delivered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last Friday before a U.S.-Israeli conference in Washington. Mr. Panetta said that a strike would ‘at best’ slow down Iran’s program for ‘maybe one, possibly two years’; that ‘some of those targets are very difficult to get at’; that a now-isolated regime would be able to ‘reestablish itself’ in the region; that the United States would be the target of Iranian retaliation; and that the global economy would be damaged.”

The Post took issue with two of these assumptions. It hinted that Arab states would be pleased with a strike on Iran and unlikely to rally around it, and asked: “if bombing destroyed thousands of Iranian centrifuges, which are manufactured from materials Tehran cannot easily acquire, would it really be so simple to rebuild?”

In any case, it said, “there is no reason for the defense secretary to spell out such views in public,” when “alarmed Iranian leaders could well conclude that they have no reason for concern after all.”

It also accused Obama of sending a “waffling signal to Tehran” by resisting pressure from allies such as France and from Congress to sanction the Iranian central bank. The administration’s stance in this matter is like Panetta’s message, the op-ed said. “In effect, it is signaling that it is determined to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon — unless it means taking military or diplomatic risks, or paying an economic price.”

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Source material can be found at this site.

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