President Barack Obama is mulling a meeting Tuesday at the United Nations with Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani. They will also both be present at a private luncheon held for heads of state by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for talks on Iran’s nuclear program–the highest-level contact between the two governments in thirty years.
Note what is not on the agenda: any condemnation or discussion of Iran’s ongoing, heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war, in which its Revolutionary Guard is supporting mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. Without Iran’s help, Assad would have fallen, and he would not have had the opportunity to slaughter additional tens of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians, never mind unleashing deadly chemical weapons against them.
Two weeks ago, President Obama addressed the American people and implored them not to forget the most helpless victims of the Assad regime–the children: “I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough,” he exhorted the nation.
If resolutions and statements of condemnation are not enough, what is President Obama doing meeting with the man whose government is aiding and abetting the murder of those children–if not carrying out some of the butchery itself? Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal likens Obama naivete in foreign affairs to that of FDR with Stalin at Yalta. This is worse: in World War II, at least, the USSR was fighting on the same side.
Syria’s children are not the only ones being betrayed. So, too, are thousands of Iranians who wish to be rid of their brutal, tyrannical regime–and might have succeeded in removing it after the stolen elections of 2009 if the Obama administration had lifted a finger. Belatedly, Obama lamented the death of Neda Agha Soltan, the most famous victim of the regime’s crackdown. Since then, he has done nothing to advance her cause.
And then, of course, there are the global victims of Iranian terror, including the Americans whom Iran would have killed in a foiled terror attack in a restaurant in Washington, D.C. Iran has never apologized for its role in that plot, nor for the murder of nearly 100 Jews in a terror attack in Argentina in 1994, nor for the attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 in which dozens of Americans were held hostage for over a year.
Perhaps the above could be forgiven if Iran had made real concessions on its nuclear program. But it has not. While Obama has renewed the same promises of diplomacy year after year, Iran has simply built more and more centrifuges, dragging out negotiations to buy time. In his first inaugural address, Obama promised to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Yet Iran’s fist is clenched more tightly than ever.
President Obama’s betrayal of Iran’s victims–past, present and future–is nothing less than appeasement. The only question remaining is whether it is deliberate or merely the result of incompetence. It is hard to understand how a president whose own style verges on tyrannical with regard to domestic opposition is so easily cowed by real dictators abroad, save as the result of a conscious preference for a weaker America