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The myth of Iran’s ‘isolation’

Posted by alanmirs on June 11, 2010



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The myth of Iran’s ‘isolation’

Friday, June 11, 2010

In announcing the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing
sanctions on Iran, President Obama stressed not once but twice Iran’s
increasing "isolation" from the world. This claim is not surprising
considering that after 16 months of an "extended
" policy, in response to which Iran accelerated its
nuclear program — more centrifuges, more enrichment sites, higher
enrichment levels — Iranian "isolation" is about the only achievement
to which the administration can even plausibly lay claim.

"Isolation" may have failed to deflect Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it
does enjoy incessant repetition by the administration. For example, in
his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that
"the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated." Two months later, Vice President Biden asserted that "since our
administration has come to power, I would point out that Iran is more
isolated — internally, externally — has fewer friends in the world."
At the signing of the START treaty in April, Obama declared that "those
nations that refuse to meet their obligations [to the Non-Proliferation
Treaty, i.e., Iran] will be isolated."

Really? On Tuesday, one day before the president touted passage of a
surpassingly weak U.N. resolution and declared Iran yet more isolated,
the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered at a security summit in
Istanbul "in a display of regional power that appeared to be calculated
to test the United States," as the
New York Times put it
. I would add: And calculated to demonstrate
the hollowness of U.S. claims of Iranian isolation, to flaunt Iran’s
growing ties with Russia and quasi-alliance with Turkey, a NATO member
no less.



Apart from the fact that isolation is hardly an end in itself and is
pointless if, regardless, Iran rushes headlong to become a nuclear
power, the very claim of Iran’s increasing isolation is increasingly
implausible. Just last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
hosted an ostentatious love fest in Tehran with the leaders of Turkey and
Brazil. The three raised hands together and announced a uranium transfer
deal that was designed to torpedo U.S. attempts to impose U.N.

Six weeks ago, Iran was elected to the U.N. Commission on the Status of
Women, a grotesque choice that mocked Obama’s attempt to isolate and
de-legitimize Iran in the very international institutions he treasures.

Increasing isolation? In the past year alone, Ahmadinejad has been
welcomed in Kabul, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Caracas, Brasilia, La Paz,
Senegal, Gambia and Uganda. Today, he is in China.

Three Iran sanctions resolutions passed in the Bush years. They were all
passed without a single "no" vote. But after 16 months of laboring to
produce a mouse, Obama garnered only 12 votes for his sorry sanctions,
with Lebanon abstaining and Turkey and Brazil voting against.

From the beginning, the Obama strategy toward Iran and other rogue
states had been to offer goodwill and concessions on the premise that
this would lead to one of two outcomes: (a) the other side changes
policy, or (b) if not, the world isolates the offending state and
rallies around us — now that we have demonstrated last-mile good

Hence, nearly a year and a half of peace overtures, negotiation,
concessions, two New Year’s messages to the Iranian people, a bit of groveling about U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup and a
disgraceful silence when the regime’s very stability was threatened by
peaceful demonstrators.

Iran’s response? Defiance, contempt and an acceleration of its nuclear

And the world’s response? Did it rally behind us? The Russians and
Chinese bargained furiously and successfully to hollow out the sanctions
resolution. Turkey is openly choosing sides with the region’s "strong
horse" — Iran and its clients (Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas) — as it
watches the United States flailingly try to placate Syria and appease
Iran while it pressures Israel, neglects Lebanon and draws down its
power in the region.

To say nothing of Brazil. Et tu, Lula?

This comes after 16 months of assiduously courting these powers with one
conciliatory gesture after another: "resetting" relations with Russia,
kowtowing to China, lavishing a two-day visit on Turkey highlighted by a
speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara, and elevating Brazil by
supplanting the G-8 with the G-20. All this has been read as American
weakness, evidence that Obama can be rolled.

The result is succinctly, if understatedly, captured in Wednesday’s Post
headline "U.S. alliance against Iran is showing new signs of

You think?




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