Jeffrey Goldberg titles his latest column regarding the prospects for a nuclear ou might like:
Iran, "A Major Victory for President Obama on Iran."
Much credit in delaying Iran goes to the unknown inventor of Stuxnet, the miracle computer virus, which has bollixed-up Iran's centrifuges; much credit goes to the Mossad and the CIA and the Brits and God knows who else, who are working separately and in tandem to subvert the Iranian program, and a great deal of credit must go to, yes, President Barack Obama, who has made stopping Iran one of his two or three main foreign policy priorities over the past two years. He did the difficult work of pulling together serious multilateral sanctions against Iran; he has convinced the Israelis -- at least he has partially convinced some Israelis -- that he has placed the prestige of his presidency behind this effort, and that he sincerely and deeply understands why it is in no one's interest to see Iran with a bomb, and he has supported, in ways that I only know the most general way, some very hard-edged counterproliferation programs, programs whose existence proves, among other things, that he is capable of real and decisive toughness. [Emphasis mine]
Unless Goldberg knows something that we don't - namely that the US under Obama is taking the lead role behind Stuxnet and the disappearance of Iranian nuclear scientists (which Goldberg doesn't really mention), he is giving Obama far too much credit for what has happened.
Without Stuxnet and without the liquidations of Iran's nuclear scientists, the sanctions would be having much less of an effect, if any at all.
And for far too long in this administration, the priority was not on stopping Iran, but on stopping Israel. If anyone deserves credit for the sanctions, it's not Obama, but the Congress, which dragged him into them kicking and screaming.
If anything, Goldberg's comments on Obama's role in Iran remind me of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's comments on the morning after the underwear bomber last Christmas. Napolitano said "the system worked." No, the system didn't work, but we managed to avoid the problem anyway thanks to others who were vigilant about the event not happening, so it looked a little bit like the system worked.
The same is true here. The sanctions were too little and too late to stop Iran (although, if continued and intensified, they could yet help), but others - the inventors of Stuxnet, the bombers of motorcycles and the encouragers of defection - were the ones who have set Iran back.
Labels: Barack Obama, Iran sanctions regime, Iranian nuclear threat, Jeffrey Goldberg, Stuxnet
posted by Carl in Jerusalem @ 6:23 PM