Now Is the Worst Possible Time to Appease Iran

A tougher line: Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier

For the Obama administration, negotiation remains the eternal solution in search of a problem. It is desperate to negotiate with the Taliban, for example–a fruitless effort, Con Coughlin notes, since “Mr. Obama has already run up the white flag in Afghanistan by ordering the withdrawal of American forces to begin this summer–in good time for November’s presidential election contest.”

Reports emerged this week that President Obama is also seeking to establish direct talks with the Iranian regime. The White House denied Iranian claims that the president had specifically asked for those talks in a secret letter, but did not dispute that it is reaching out to the regime–even as it works against bipartisan support in Congress for tougher sanctions on Iran.

Amidst conclusions–even in the Obama-friendly mainstream media–that his major foreign policy initiatives have failed, the president seems desperate to claim a diplomatic success.

Now, however, is the worst possible time for Obama to appease Iran–not just because the International Atomic Energy Agency has suggested that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but also because Iran is quickly losing support from key diplomatic and military allies.

The UK Telegraph reports today that China–which, together with Russia, has protected Iran at the United Nations Security Council–has condemned any effort by Iran to build nuclear weapons. At the same time, the United Arab Emirates-based National reports that attacks by the Palestinian terror group Hamas on Shiite Muslims in Gaza could suggest that Hamas is distancing itself from its Iranian patrons:

Saturday’s crackdown on Shiites – occurring as Hamas dismantles its headquarters in Damascus amid Syrian president Bashar Al Assad’s political troubles – is an obvious affront to its long-time patron and may be a sign that one strut of that axis is rickety.

It also may be an indication that the tectonic political shifts underway since the Arab Spring erupted last year may be affecting the Gaza Strip.

The Iranian regime’s weakness was underlined last week when Western diplomats announced that it had agreed to admit some U.N. weapons inspectors on January 28. The leverage of the international community is increasing–and yet at this very moment the Obama administration has apparently decided to throw the regime a lifeline, possibly undercutting the international community.

Supporters of the administration’s policy would, no doubt, argue that now is precisely the moment when negotiations would be most effective. That would be more convincing if those negotiations had been requested by the Iranian regime, and not the Obama administration.

The White House missed an opportunity in 2009, when the Green Revolution stood a chance of overwhelming the Iranian regime. The shifting of global and regional alliances could present a second chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran–peacefully if at all possible, by force if necessary–and it is not a chance the Obama administration should skip because of narrow political considerations.

The administration should strengthen sanctions, increase diplomatic pressure, and signal that our military is prepared to deal with any Iranian threats. The stakes for the U.S. and our allies are simply too high to do otherwise.