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Dithering at the Fork

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Yogi Berra once said “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” After the rank absurdity of transforming two options into one passes, the road and the split suggest something about the inevitability of events in life. We must choose a road and go forward. Time permits no other option. We can try to go back the way we came, but since we have already traveled this road, the view can’t help but be different however similar we may think it is or wish it to be.

Like the road and the fork in it, we like to think nothing is certain in life, but death and taxes, inuring ourselves to the constant fragile flux that compromises human existence. However, there are a good many other things that present themselves as inevitable. We like to think that we have free will, self -determination and such, but channels of thought and conditioning run long and deep.

Take the current situation with the Iranian Nuclear standoff and Barack Obama’s response to it. Even with the Iranian government lying about its’ nuclear program, the President wants a relationship based on “mutual respect.” Why anyone would want to respect such a bunch of flagrant deceivers seems rather mysteriously masochistic. You are just asking for more abuse. Unfortunately, this diplomatic dance with Iran is nothing novel as a return to the Presidency of James Earl Carter shows.

Let us return to those dejected days of the Carter Presidency. In the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, President Carter said to the Iranians “The people of the United States desire to have relations with Iran based on equality, mutual respect, and friendship.” Then Carter “approved of the the establishment of a UN commission to investigate American misdeeds against Iran. Of course, the Iranians flung that back in his face. In fact, this actually was Carter meeting a demand of the kidnappers. Earlier, “[kidnappers] insisted that the president apologize for a long list American crimes against the Iranian people, beginning with the overthrow of Mossadegh.”

Wait. Didn’t Barack Obama just apologize for U.S. involvement in overthrowing Mossadegh in his recent Cairo speech? Apologizing to Iran today is just as ineffective as it was in 1979. Barack seems to believe that craven banter with this same regime will bear some kind of diplomatic fruit. This man rooted in the “fierce urgency of now” seems completely oblivious to the past history of relations with Iran.

Also, the rather limp wristed condemnation of Iran at the G-20 in Pittsburgh, highlights a leader with seemingly little cooperation with his allies. When chastising Iran, the French and British leaders both had much stronger words than Obama. Perhaps this mousy public performance was inadvertent. Whatever the intention, the effect is unmistakable. Obama seems wholly reticent about confronting Iran. In this episode, Obama bears all the hallmarks of a weak and inexperienced leader dithering before making a big decision.

Barack Obama, man of deadlines, (health care, Gitmo, though now ditched) seems to have none when it comes to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. It also appears the Iranians see this fickle trait in Obama. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Ali Akbar Salehi said of the U.S. /European denouncing Iran secret plant, “Their embarrassing reaction and their unbalanced response has shocked us.” This faux outrage is part of the familiar U.S./Iran diplomatic dance. After the Iranians hoodwink the U.S. at the upcoming negotiations in Geneva, Obama will either crow about some toothless agreement the Iranians have signed or try to push sanctions the Europeans probably won’t back. Either way Tehran wins by gaining more time to work on the bomb.

So what did Jimmy do? As talks endlessly dragged on, Carter had reached a critical point in the negotiations with the hostage takers. The Iranians were completely uncooperative. Since an offer of admission of American “crimes” didn’t bring about the desired result, Carter finally acted. “He severed ties with Tehran, froze its American assets and prohibited the import of Iranian oil into the United States. Proposals for imposing a broader boycott on Iran failed to gain international support, however, even from the Europeans.” We know that these actions also had no effect on the radical Muslim government in Iran, which led to the disastrous rescue attempt code named Operation Eagle Claw.

In a parallel way today, Obama and the Europeans simply have no leverage of a threatening nature with Iran. Without a stick, a carrot is simply a morsel to be stolen without further care by the thief. Even at this late date the carrot is still available for the taking. As the Washington Post reports (Iran pressured over new plant) “As an inducement for cooperation, the United States and other powers have offered economic and diplomatic incentives if Iran reins in its nuclear ambitions.” So Obama is reduced to the role of an almost comic salesman begging the Iranians to take the deal for cash, clout or maybe even a NEW CAR!!! (GM of course)

This bribe strategy is familiar too. Remember the framework agreement negotiated with North Korea in 1992 to get rid of their budding nuclear weapons program. That payoff that failed was negotiated by none other than Jimmy Carter. North Korea got two light water reactors and 500,000 tons of oil per year all free, courtesy of Uncle Sam. That really worked didn’t it? And now North Korea is a nuclear parts supplier to Iran.

This really shows one rather blatant theme of Democratic foreign policy: the bribe. At one point during difficult negotiations during the Vietnam War, LBJ turned to an aide said “Can’t we just buy Ho Chi Minh a dam or something?” The habits of machine politics run deep, even into the arena of foreign policy. Unfortunately, these methods don’t translate well abroad because these recipients of cash, unlike domestic money grubbers never vote and can’t do much for those who do. After all, the cash or favor leaves the United States and contact with the recipient after this usually revolves around one sentence: send more money.

The nuclear standoff with Iran will follow the same path. After much posturing, Obama will try the payoff as well. He’ll dress it up as artful, very slow diplomacy in an attempt to forestall an Israeli attack. If the Iranians test a bomb before the talks have ended, then the military option may be off the table entirely and it’s hello nuclear blackmail. If they are still some way off to a bomb, the Iranians may even take the cash and fabulous parting gifts and all sides are happy. The Iranians continue work on the bomb, Obama nominates himself for the Nobel Peace Prize and Israel is left facing the nuts working on nukes. Like the Czechs in 1938, Israel faces the threat directly and is being treated as little more than a bargaining chip by Obama doing his best Neville Chamberlain imitation. At the fork, Obama will choose baksheesh over force and it probably won’t even slow down the Iranians quest for a bomb.

What would Jimmy do? Let’s go back one last time. It is the end of the Carter Presidency. The hostage crisis has effectively brought down a president. Defeated in the election of 1980 by a gaping margin of 440 electoral votes, Carter had one duty left: the payoff. Thus, “he offered to pay the modern form of tribute by unfreezing Iranian bank accounts in the United States and indemnifying Iran from future lawsuits by the prisoners. Temporarily pacified, the Iranians ended their captives’ 444-day incarceration…”

The payoff is coming. So watch for it. I think another Yogiism is due here. “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

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About Mr Dock Ellis

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dock,

    Good well written article.

    You are altogether too kind to Obama. He is not merely an inexperienced leader. The last time he tried anything (before he got elected) was messing in Kenyan politics, trying to help fellow Luo tribesmen of his. And he screwed up altogether.

    As I told another writer here, what you guys do about Iran is your problem. But I can only hope that Netanyahu will not cower when it comes time to attempt to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    That should have been done last year or two years ago. But Olmert, the scumbag, trusted Bush. The bottom line, Dock, is that we in Israel cannot rely on you Americans at all. We are all alone, and our asses are on the line. So, we do not have to really answer to you Americans at all. I just pray that Netanyahu can overcome his training in being an American lapdog and act accordingly.

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    From the beginning, Obama said “We’re going to make mistakes,” which seemed human and realistic. But many Obama supporters are beginning to feel a sense of sadness and dismay that he’s not recognizing the mistakes – tactically, philosophically, economically – that have already been made. I appreciate his commitment to core ideas of civility and communication, but I’m beginning to fear that taking the high road could end up taking us further from our goals. Mollycoddling Iran, sinking into the quicksand of Afghanistan, and not taking an aggressively progressive approach in his efforts for health care reform could prove disastrous. Perhaps we disagree about the stronger direction the president should be moving in (Left or Right), but we’re in agreement that his failure to respond more quickly to the bumps in all the roads he’s on is weakening him – and us. I like him, I’m rooting for him, I want him to succeed, and I want him to risk political anarchy by doing the many things he knows should be done. And it would be nice if the Democrats joined together and closed ranks. Alas, at the rate they’re going, they’ll manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    …many Obama supporters are beginning to feel a sense of sadness and dismay that he’s not recognizing the mistakes – tactically, philosophically, economically – that have already been made.

    I see you are beginning to wake up from that haze of victory to see reality, Jeanne. That can only be good – for you.

    Fortunately, (for us) this is not an issue where we in Israel can afford to rely on Obama or America. I personally feel that Netanyahu should be hung for treason. But speaking at the UN, he made Obama look like a whining weakling.

    As I said above, I hope Netanyahu does not cower when the time to act on destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities, a time coming very soon, arrives. It may well be that America will physically oppose our attempts to protect our land from Iran – and we’ll just have to fight you. So be it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I agree with you, Jeanne, about the weaknesses you mentioned and this aura of indecision. He is not as seasoned as Bobby Kennedy would have been were he not shot. Perhaps the conviction isn’t there either, not to the extent many believed.

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    “I see you are beginning to wake up from that haze of victory to see reality, Jeanne. That can only be good – for you.”

    Ruvy, as a Jew and a lifelong supporter of Israel, I feel for you. But I must observe that you seem to view everything from the prism of what’s good for Israel — understandably, but I’m an American and can’t help but be concerned about many things that affect us, period. I think Obama means well when it comes to Israel, but I was appalled by some of his remarks at the UN about Israel and the [never-ending] peace process. I don’t think Obama really gets it about Israel and I wish someone would advise him better about this (where’s Hillary?). But I still believe in my president, in his decency and sincerity, and I’m not waking up from a haze, I’m speaking truth to power (or about it, anyway…)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Jeanne,

    Thank you for your kind words. Please read my take on Obama that I had by June, 2008. Read it all the way through, though, Jeanne. There is a surprise at the end.

    g’mar Hatimá tová
    Ruvy

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    Ruvy, I just read your June `08 post. I do not, cannot, defend Obama’s contradictory statements about his and America’s support of Israel. But I believe he is still the Great Black Hope; he just doesn’t know how to find a new approach to an age-old problem.

    I must be honest: I just can’t find it in my heart to care about the “poor Palestinians.” They have been Israel’s arch enemy for decades and I believe that most Palestinians would still like to see Israel destroyed. I’ve also never understood why the community of Arab nations with their hugely vast lands never stepped up to the plate to welcome the Palestinians and help them create a new homeland somewhere else in the Middle East.

    The problem is, in time, if some kind of compromise can’t be found, I fear that Israel WILL be destroyed. Before Obama, the US had done nothing concerning Muslims in general and Arabs in particular except paint them as intractable and evil. Obama is trying to manage a very perilous balancing act: protect Israel, yet still manage to diminish anti-American sentiment in the Arab/Muslim world. I don’t know if he can do it; I don’t know if anyone can do it. But how much longer can tiny albeit powerful Israel hold its ground against hordes that want to destroy it? And what is the best way for the great big USA to defend its friend but also make new friends out of its enemies?

    I have no idea. I’m hoping and praying that Obama can find the magical diplomatic formula that will work in a way that nothing else has. So far, he’s done only a fair job. But I say give the man a break: he’s only been in the presidency for nine months and some heavy-duty crises have been heaped on his increasingly-graying head. Let’s give him a chance to work this out over time.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Doc,

    I believe that Former President Jimmy Carter was steering this country in the right direction.

    He tried to bring transparency of crimes committed by Iran or the United States. Carter was showing us that no one is above the law in a moral and just world. He was leading by example with his UN Proposal. Too bad we didn’t adopt that policy; we might not have had a GITMO to get out of today…

    Jimmy Carter also had solar collectors installed on the White House roof; he was a true supporter of alternative fuels. Not just the lip service we have been served up by every presidency since his ended.

    One of the first orders Ronald Reagan gave as the new Commander in Chief was to have those solar collectors removed.

    The oil industry would show America just who was on top of the energy heap!

    You wrote:
    I’m hoping and praying that Obama can find the magical diplomatic formula that will work in a way that nothing else has. So far, he’s done only a fair job. But I say give the man a break: he’s only been in the presidency for nine months and some heavy-duty crises have been heaped on his increasingly-graying head. Let’s give him a chance to work this out over time.

    I have no qualms with this paragraph. It’s about time we read some intelligent references to Obama’s Presidency…:)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, I agree with you, Jeannie. That was one of the most thoughtful and honest set of remarks on this all so complex a problem that I’ve heard in a long time.

    Ma Browne is indeed a most welcome addition to our BC community.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    #7 Jeanne,
    I just realized that you wrote the paragraph I credited Doc with. thanks for pointing that out Roger!

    Would I be terribly UN-PC if I pointed out the fact that President Obama is not black but mulatto?

    My husband and I were discussing this last night and we came to the conclusion that if we would stop looking at his ethnicity and realize,all of us, that we all can relate to President Obama…:)

    I said on more than one occasion in my life

    “I wish aliens would come down from space so that we could all get together as a human race..Then they would be the enemy!”

    As humans we seem to have this need for an adversary…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Interesting thought, Jeannie. Just like in the movie, The Independence Day.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Yes Roger!

    But I’m not the girl on the roof.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What’s with her? What part did she play?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Roger, Have they changed the markup language for embedding URLs?
    It wouldn’t work yesterday and now when I tried it, Akismet blocked me.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    The party girl that went up on the roof. She was part of the welcoming committee.
    The spaceship vaporized all of them!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I hear you. No – shy away from that role.

    The formula for embedding is still the same. Just use the preview button to ascertain all is OK and then post.

    As to Akesmet, all you’ve got to do is change a word or phrase. Most of the time it works.

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    Jeannie — As it happens, I too am mulatto and believe strongly that the president’s mixed heritage is an important element in understanding his consistent attempts to see both sides of everything. I refer to him as black (I hate the term African-American; more on that another time) because he’s viewed that way for the most part, and also identifies as such while still emphasizing that he’s biracial. It’s been my experience that both black and white people have a hard time accepting the legitimacy of biracial as a separate racial category, much in the same way that straight and gay people look askance at those who claim to be bisexual: they see us as fence-sitters, unwilling to accept and pronounce what we “really” are. And in practice, biracial people who look white, as I do, have the “privilege” of professing our biracialness, whereas biracial people who look even remotely black are especially hard-pressed to communicate this concept. It’s a sticky wicket and it’s been the bane of my existence since forever. Also, I, like you, have longed for the arrival of the little green men from a distant world so that humanity might see itself more clearly as a single race. I’m not holding my breath, but I occasionally search the skies…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Jeanne,

    There are less generous opinions of your president, far less generous even than mine. I found this opinion piece at Arutz Sheva.

    This has nothing to do with race or mixed race or whatever. This has to do with what we have seen a man do, and what we have seen him say in public.

    From the article:

    And where else can a failure garner points of success and accomplishment? Where should a man whose political knowledge is close to zero and his accomplishments are less than that, go for some bitterly-needed relief? What such a man can do – always – is blame the Jews for all that goes wrong. Thus by placing Israel on the chopping-block, Obama curries temporary favor with the Islamic world. After all, since the US could be one of the larger Islamic countries in the world (listen to his Cairo speech), by destroying Israel, the Muslim world will quickly learn to admire and love the US. Logical?

    The man is a total moron. The president of the United States bowed – let me repeat that, bowed – to the king of one of the most radical, human-rights-abusing states in the world. Humility? No. It was an embarrassing stupidity and degradation for the president of the leading democracy in the world to bow to anyone, especially to the putrid ilk of Saudi Arabia.

    Remember, Jeanne. During Sukkot we read the from the Books of Ezekiel and Zechariah, about the War of Gog and Magog and the Full Redemption of our people – a redemption that begins with a bloodbath. We may be seeing Redemption in Real-Time. Redemption leads us from the World of Lies and Falsehood we try to survive in now to the World of Truth.

    Have a peaceful and meaningful Sukkot, and a good Sabbath.

    shabbát shalóm, sukkót saméaH, u’g’mar Hatimá tová,

    Ruvy

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Jeanne,

    I thought I would direct you to a piece I wrote some time ago on my blog site, Ruvy’s Roost. It was too long for publication here as a single article, and since most of the readers are NOT Jews, I didn’t deem this to be an appropriate site. If you keep the Sabbath and do not use a computer, you may wish to print it up and read it over the next two days of Sukkot. This is an excerpt from Looking at History through a Jewish Lens: the War of Tish’á b’Av

    Now, let’s look at when the crash actually occurred. It was during the holiday of Sukkot, 5690. Bear in mind that we Jews believe that Divine judgment is rendered on Rosh Hashanah, sealed on Yom Kippur, and executed upon Jews on Hoshana Raba at the end of the Sukkot festival. Hoshana Raba 5690 was Friday, 25 October 1929.

    Sukkot, 5690 began on Shabbat, 19 October 1929. The market was open for only a half a day that day, with little clue to the disaster coming the following week. On Monday, 21 Oct., the market seriously declined. It was a scary experience. According to the book “1929,” by William Klingaman,
    “’Taken as a whole’, reported the New York Times, ‘the character of the market left Wall Street both bewildered and frightened.’” Consequently, the Hoover administration released a statement saying, “‘there was no evidence of a serious business or financial situation which could be held responsible for the decline of Stock Exchange values.’”
    Continues Klingaman,
    “[Yale University’s] Irving Fisher contemptuously dismissed the day’s break as a ‘shaking out of the lunatic fringe that attempts to speculate on margin’; the market, he implied, was well rid of such amateur speculators.”

    Klingaman writes about the nest day, Tuesday, 22 October,
    “Although Manhattan was buffeted by 50mph winds… the stock exchange observed a rare and blessedly peaceful day”

    “On the morning of Wednesday, October 23, … Wall Street opened the day in a haze of uncertainty. Those who confidently expected Tuesday’s half-hearted rally to continue were disappointed… By noon it was obvious that the market was heading for another sharp fall. And this time even the strongest nerves cracked.”
    Klingaman continued a page later,
    “Thursday, October 24…

    Anticipating disorder, [New York City, Police Commissioner] Grover Whelan dispatched a squadron of police wagons to the financial district and instructed them to block the narrow entrance from Broadway to Wall Street.

    On the floor of the exchange, nervous and exhausted brokers and clerks… took up their posts early. Nearly all the 1,100 members of the exchange were present, about 300 more than on a normal business day.

    Matthew Josephson, who had forsaken a brief and not terribly successful career as a stockbroker to pursue writing… recalled more than forty years later. ‘I heard – and I can still hear it – the sound of running feet, the sound of fear, as people hastened to reach posts of observation before the gong rang for the opening of trading’

    In the words of one Wall Street old-timer, the market opened ‘like a bolt out of hell’. Trading was already extraordinarily heavy, involving more than 1,600,000 shares in the first thirty minutes alone. Until 10:30 the market seemed uncertain, directionless. Then it plunged straight down, and no power on earth could stop it.”
    Thursday, 24 October 1929, the day before Hoshana Raba 5690, is generally recorded in the history books as the start of the Great Depression. A less than astute man could see that an era was ending that day. There were many severely less than astute people who still kept their money in the market, unwilling to believe the goose that laid the golden egg through the decade previous had indeed died and was being served up with sauce.

    However, a man steeped in the Jewish calendar would have realized that a Divine Judgment had been executed, even if he could not see the ultimate consequence of that Judgment. That was why the crash, bound to occur anyway, occurred when it did. It was a Divine Finger pointing out that something extremely Significant had occurred, and it was time to pay careful attention.

    shabbát shalóm, sukkót saméaH, u’g’mar Hatimá tová,

    Ruvy

  • Zedd

    Help me out please folks I’m confused, force by whom? With what? For what?

    – Ruvy don’t answer please. I’m looking for a real response and not a predictable Hitler-esque hate speech.

  • Ruvy

    You don’t want an answer, Zedd. You want a pack of mellow merde bullshit to salve your conscience. You’ll get your wish – for now. I don’t have time to type any answers. As a matter of fact, I have already linked to them. But you’re too lazy or too scared or too closed-minded to look.

    Good Day

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I will remind all of you that taking out Iran’s nuclear capability is not YOUR decision to make. You Americans still delude yourselves that you are a first class power. You are no longer a first class power. The Arabs, Russians and Commie Chinese all have you by the cojones, and your idiot of a president is going to spend you further into their power.

    The decision to get rid of Persia’s nuclear capabilities is Israel’s to make – we are the ones with the most to lose. I only pray that our own leaders will not cower before your idiots.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, despite your determined and repetitive attempts to minimise the role of the USA on the world stage, it is simple laughable to contend that it isn’t a world power. That is just your faithist prejudice speaking, leavened with a huge dose of “the mouse that roared” fantasy.

    In the real world, an attack of the kind you keep promoting would do more to bring Israel’s opponents together – and alienate the allies without which it couldn’t actually continue to survive – than almost any other act. As such, it would far more likely turn out to be a grand national suicide in effect rather than the clean surgical strike at your most vocal enemy that you seem to envisage.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Jeanne,

    I was pleased to read your #17 this morning. My family is Italian and even though I am adopted I feel Italian and being raised Italian I am Italian…but my soul is everyman.

    Also, I, like you, have longed for the arrival of the little green men from a distant world so that humanity might see itself more clearly as a single race. I’m not holding my breath, but I occasionally search the skies…

    this soppy old hippy found a friend…:)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    THIS is why we in Israel have to nuke the bastards – destroying Tehran and Qom, the religious center of the mullahs.

    They threaten to destroy US. These Persian cockroaches must be taught a lesson – a hard lesson that all the Arab scum who have wet dreams of murdering us off will not forget – ever.

    IN the meantime, that prick Obama can masturbate with his little Arabfart prize from the Norwegian shit, pardon me, parliament, and pretend to be the mighty leader he is not.

    You fools can dither. We cannot.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, you appear to be losing the ability to understand English.

    The article you linked to clearly quotes an Iranian official called Mojtaba Zolnour as saying that Iran would respond to an attack on it by America or Israel by attacking Israel; it was not a threat to destroy Israel.

    And before you respond with one of your habitual and inaccurate remarks about me being anti-Israel, I will conclude by saying that I still support the continuing Western nations commitment to defending Israel against any attackers.

    Your suggestion of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Tehran and Qom is far more likely to lead to the destruction of Israel, whilst failing to remove the potential dangers it faces.

    Indeed, given that it would almost certainly require all of Israel’s tiny stock of nuclear weapons to mount any kind of meaningful attack, the net result would be to leave the country even more vulnerable and faced with enraged enemies and a loss of support amongst its friends and allies.

    Your implausible macho posturing and fondness for gutter language make you seem more like a testosterone overloaded teenager than a grown man, with a corresponding lack of political credibility. Thank goodness you don’t actually have any serious political power.