Krauthammer: Defy America, pay no price
If you’re going to engage in a foreign policy capitulation, might as well do it when everyone is getting tanked and otherwise occupied. Say, New Year’s Eve.
Here’s the story. In October, Iran test-fires a nuclear-capable ballistic missile in violation of Security Council resolutions prohibiting such launches. President Obama does nothing. One month later, Iran does it again. The administration makes a few gestures at the U.N. Then nothing. Finally, on Dec. 30, the White House announces a few sanctions.
By 10 that night, the administration caves. The White House sends out an email saying that sanctions are off — and Iran orders the military to expedite the missile program.
Is there any red line left? The administration insisted that there would be no nuclear deal unless Iran accounted for its past nuclear activities. (It didn’t.) And unless Iran permitted inspection of its Parchin nuclear testing facility. (It was allowed self-inspection and declared itself clean.) And now, illegal ballistic missiles.
The premise of the nuclear deal was that it would constrain Iranian actions. It’s had precisely the opposite effect.
The Gulf Arabs — rich, weak and, since FDR, dependent on America for security — are bewildered. They’re still reeling from the nuclear deal, which Obama declared would be unaffected by Iranian misbehavior elsewhere. The result was to assure Tehran that it would pay no price for its aggression in Syria and Yemen, subversion in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and support for terrorism.
Obama seems not to understand that disconnecting the nuclear issue gave the mullahs license to hunt in the region.
The danger is rising. For years, Iran has been supporting anti-regime agitation among Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites. The Persian Gulf is Iran’s ultimate prize. The fall of the House of Saud would make Iran the undisputed regional hegemon and an emerging global power.
For the United States, that would be the greatest geopolitical setback since China fell to communism in 1949. Yet Obama seems oblivious.
The world sees and takes note. As it does our response to the other great U.S. adversary — Russia. What’s happened to Obama’s vaunted “isolation” of Russia for its annexation of Crimea and assault on the post-Cold War European settlement? Gone. Evaporated.
There is no price for defying Pax Americana — not even trivial sanctions on Iranian missile-enablers. Our enemies know it.
Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post.