Archive for Tue, Sep 29, 2009

How Appeasement Works: Slowly, With A Month Here And A Month There

From the Wall Street Journal’s write up on the debate over which sanctions to impose on Iran, and when:

European officials stressed Monday they are likely to seriously consider new sanctions only at year-end, citing a December deadline, replacing President Barack Obama’s September deadline, that has now been set to see if diplomacy with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad works.

The aricle is specific only on those sanctions which won’t be imposed:

ban on gasoline sales also is difficult to get through the Security Council because Chinese state companies this month began providing up to one-third of sales to Iran, filling in the market vacated by BP and Reliance of India.

A total embargo on Iranian oil — which Israeli officials have suggested — seems unlikely. U.S. law already forbids U.S. firms from buying Iranian oil, but Europe, Japan and China are big customers. Analysts say an embargo on Iranian oil would drive up prices and damage the global economy, unless a big producer such as Saudi Arabia made up the difference — about 3% of world supply.

A U.N. tightening of an arms import ban on Iran would run up against the interests of a powerful sector of the Russian economy. “A lot of larger contractors in those sectors of the Russian economy don’t have necessarily other extensive markets that they can easily go to,” said Paul Saunders, executive director of the Nixon Center in Washington.

Because the Obama Adminsitration is not credible on the idea that it would ever use the military option, other nations reluctant to hurt their own economic interests don’t worry about blocking lower level sanctions. They don’t have to worry about America escalating the confrontation because it is President Obama they are dealing with, and he cannot even bring himself to meet with his Afgan commander more than once in two-and-a-half months.

Already the voices urging a de facto surrender to Iran’s ambitions are surfacing in the usual palces –the editorial pages of the New York Times for example. “[T]he administration should seek a strategic realignment with Iran as thoroughgoing as that effected by Nixon with China,” write Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett in today’s paper, barely 72 hours after the president and his British and French allies demanded Iran comply with international law.

Secretary Gates has said that military action against Iran will only buy time, but time may be Israel’s best ally right now as it watches the world roll over in a surprisingly swift resignation to the inevitability of Iranian nuclear weapons.

The lead editorial in today’s Jerusalem Post calls for a response similar to that imposed on Cuba in 1962:

Iran’s stratagem is to “engage” as it pushes ahead with its bomb, thereby making it hard for the international community to impose meaningful sanctions. Once it feels certain it has all the pieces of the nuclear weapon’s puzzle in place – fuel, warhead, delivery system – it might offer Obama a stop just short of a test detonation, in return for a long list of Western concessions.

Anyway, the pace of economic sanctions is way out of sync with the progress the mullahs are making on their bomb. Even if Russia and China accepted a winter embargo on refined petroleum products entering Iran, is there any reason to imagine that the mere discomfort of the Iranian masses would take precedence for Khameini and Ahmadinejad over the bomb?

Obama should leapfrog over futile intermediate steps and place draconian sanctions on the table, now. To paraphrase John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this would mean that all ships and planes bound for Iran, from whatever nation, would be turned back.

Perhaps this prospect, coupled with a complete land, sea and air quarantine, can influence Iran’s leaders to rethink their one-step-forward-two-steps-back strategy, and save humanity from an Iranian bomb.

Alas, President Obama wants very much to look and sound like President Kennedy, but it is highly unlikely that he will be acting like him anytime soon. The appeasers don’t want to force a confrontation over Israeli security, so if Israel genuinely fears the Iranian bomb on Iranian missiles –or some lesser WMD made in the secret facilites of Iran and smuggled via Syria to the Hezbollah forces on Israel’s northern border– it will have to arrange for the remedy by itself. And soon.

My new Washington Examiner column is posted.

How the MSM covers what increasingly appears to be a full scale strategy of appeasement vis-a-vis Iran will define the legacy media’s legacy, in the same way that Geoffrey Dawson’s support for the policies of Neville Chamberlain defined the Times of London’s editor’s reputation.

Iran is reported to have test fired a long range missile today, which is all the reply a sensible person needs to understand how the mullahs will conduct themselves over the next two months. Today’s coverage of this event will tell us a lot about whether Beltway-Manhattan media elites even understand what is unfolding around the world.

“With ObamaCare in a Hole, Will the White House Stop Digging?”

The Monday morning column from Clark Judge:

With ObamaCare in a Hole, Will the White House Stop Digging?
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.

Increasingly in Washington over the last few weeks, we have heard this assessment of the president’s health care upheaval prospects: Something will pass, because the president and his party have such large majorities (nearly 60 percent) in both chambers of Congress that it is inconceivable that they could not bludgeon their way to the necessary majorities. But victory will be the product of power, not debate – and it will cost them control of the House in the next election.

The problem for the president is that he has lost the health care debate. No one in either party or in the media has dared speak this fact as of now, but it is inescapable.

Let’s review the bidding:
-Cost: The president said the upheaval would cost nothing. The Congressional Budget Office put a trillion-dollar-plus price tag on it. Others have since confirmed their assessment.
-Taxes: The president said only those making more than $250,000 per year would pay more. As details have emerged, virtually every American will be paying additional taxes to fund this new federal health care behemoth. [# More #]
-Death Panels (really policies to cut the cost of that famously expensive “last year of life”): The president and his team have called the death panel charge a lie. They have pointed to Britain’s National Health Service as a counter example. But about two weeks ago, an article by British policy expert Rupert Darwall appeared in the Wall Street Journal (http://tinyurl.com/nqr3au) showing that, well, actually policies in the British service are tilted toward cutting off care to the aged.

As Darwall wrote:
[Recently] a group of senior doctors and health-care experts wrote to a national newspaper expressing their concern about the Liverpool Care Pathway, a palliative program being rolled out across the NHS involving the withdrawal of fluids and nourishment for patients thought to be dying. Noting that in 2007-08, 16.5% of deaths in the U.K. came after “terminal sedation,” their letter concluded with the chilling observation that experienced doctors know that sometimes “when all but essential drugs are stopped, ‘dying’ patients get better” if they are allowed to.

Darwall was pointing out what everyone except the president’s policy experts seems to understand: None of us knows which year is our last year of life until we actually die. The rationing policies at the heart of the president’s money saving plan will inevitably lead to government panels setting standards for the entire population. But not everyone – actually, not most of us – will fit those standards. With genetics driving medicine towards highly individualized care at all levels, the president’s upheaval plans will drive the nation to care by the averages, or, as one former senior Food and Drug Administration official called it in a talk with me recently, a lurching back to the Middle Ages of treatment.

-Keep our own plans: The president has said that no one will be forced to give up his or her current health plan. But increasingly it is clear that his program will drive current health plans from the market. As someone put it, “No, you won’t be forced to give up your current plan. It’s just that your current plan will cease to exist.”
-More: I could go on. But undoubtedly the best rundown of the misconceptions at the heart of the president’s plan and of why he has lost the debate is a book (available here — http://tinyurl.com/6rzagq — for free in pdf form) titled The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen’s Guide. It is by Sally Pipes, president of San Francisco’s Pacific Research Institute (of which I am chairman). “[F]or health care policy makers, it should be required reading,” says Steve Forbes in its introduction — not that the president’s people can be expected to heed Forbes’ advice.

On point after point, the president has been on the short end of the health care argument. Facts have got in his way so often as to raise doubts about whether the White House even has a fact checking staff.

Meanwhile, he and his allies have tried to ignore the increasingly loud and much better informed voices for modest reforms that might actually lower costs while improving access and quality. A recent and brilliant brief for this consumer-driven model appeared (http://tinyurl.com/lquswk) in the September issue of The Atlantic. By businessman and Democrat David Goldhill, it was just one dozens of recent appeals along the same lines: that if Washington’s Golden Rule is “he who has the gold makes the rules”, in health care each of us individually should have the gold: not the government, not our employer, us.

Over the weekend, the Rasmussen organization released polling numbers that found the percentage of likely voters strongly disapproving of the president’s handling of his job ten points higher than strong approving. Public opposition to his health care proposals was as large a week following his recent address to Congress as it was the week before. This debate is over – even if the power politics are not.

An old political rule says, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. The more Mr. Obama demands passage of his unsaleable program, the higher his disapproval ratings go. The question now is, will he will he have the sense to stop digging?

Oppose Iran’s Agression and President Obama’s Appeasement By Supporting The Center for Security Policy

The announcement today by President Obama, Prime Minister Brown and President Sarkozy marks a decisive moment for the West –but also another enormous failure of will by the three leaders. Iran gets two months to do what? Test a bomb? Does anyone really believe that a nation that has systematically lied for decades about their nuclear ambitions will suddenly change course, come clean, and dismantle all of their installations?

And why didn’t the presidents and the prime ministers use the podium of the U.N. to declare before the world that the outlaw nation that threatens the entire world’s stability needed to be brought to heel? Why indulge Ahmadinejad and his pal Chavez when the evidence was surely already in the possession of the president and our most important allies? Why force Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the heavy lifting before the world?

The sad answer is that President Obama leads a coalition of new appeasers, a group that cannot summon enough collective will to do more than warn the most dangerous government on the planet that sanctions will be forthcoming if it doesn’t stop doing that which it has refused to stop doing for a decade.

The only response for a rational citizen who wants very much for the U.S. to adopt the policies of strength that may yet deter Iran and to support our ally Israel in what looks increasingly like an inevitable air campaign against iran is to support voices and thinkers in America who have been right about the nature of the iranian regime for a long time and who have been urging decisive action for a long time, and that surely includes The Center for Security Policy.

You can donate to the Center online, and you can hear its founder and president, Frank Gaffney, at the the start of today’s program. Dig deep to help the voices of clarity which the Center supports stay in the center of the debate in the crucial months ahead.

UPDATE: A joint, bipartisan statement from Sentors Bayh, Kyl and Lieberman.

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