'Our aim is not incremental sanctions, but sanctions that will bite." Thus did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seek to reassure the crowd at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee two weeks ago about the Obama Administration's resolve on Iran. Three days later, this newspaper reported on its front page that "the U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran" in order to win Russian and Chinese support for one more U.N. sanctions resolution.
This fits the pattern we have seen across the 14 months of the Obama Presidency. Mrs. Clinton called a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable" no fewer than four times in a single paragraph in her AIPAC speech. But why should the Iranians believe her? President Obama set a number of deadlines last year for a negotiated settlement of Iran's nuclear file, all of which Tehran ignored, and then Mr. Obama ignored them too.
In his latest Persian New Year message to Iran, Mr. Obama made the deadline-waiver permanent, saying "our offer of comprehensive diplomatic contacts and dialogue stands." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a quick rejoinder. "They say they have extended a hand to Iran," the Iranian President said Saturday, "but the Iranian government and nation declined to welcome that."
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