European Fecklessness on Display
John Vinocur describes Europe's mounting frustration with the Obama presidency and their lack of faith in his ability to achieve his goals. According to Vinocur, this frustration is especially acute when it comes to the negotations with Iran:
Last Thursday, just as negotiations with Iran picked up in Geneva, I heard doubts from a high-level European security official, somewhat akin to Saudi Arabia and Israel's concerns, about how much reality Mr. Obama wanted to deal with concerning Tehran's drive toward atomic weapons.
The main subject of an hour's conversation was whether Iran believed the U.S. and the West would attack if Tehran refused to dismantle its nuclear program. In relation to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad holds on to power in increasing comfort, Mr. Obama had stated on American television in September, "My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn't draw a lesson that we haven't struck [Syria] to think we won't strike Iran.''
Referring at first to circumstances in January, when the Obama Administration pulled away from a plan to furnish military assistance to the Syrian rebels alongside France and Britain, the European official said, "it remains true that Iran doesn't believe the U.S. and the West will strike."...
Mr. Obama has also described a combination of "credible threat of force" and "rigorous diplomatic effort" as being able to lead to "a deal" with the Iranians. He accompanied this with an assurance that regime change in Iran is not an American goal.
The European official's view of this approach was negative. Rather, he said, to create adequate pressure on the Tehran leadership, "You have to challenge the Iranian homeland and the Islamic Republic as a unique world model."
Let's clarify this. By "you" this European official means: the American taxpayer and service personnel. With this in mind, it's pretty obvious why Europe is frustrated. They want to America to threaten Iran with force, while they sit on the sidelines. Since those would be American threats it would naturally become America's obligation -- not Europe's -- to follow through on them.
So too with Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Israel. Much of the "frustration" we've been hearing about from America's Middle Eastern allies these days is the frustration of those who are unable to outsource their risky policy preferences to the United States. So yes, they're frustrated. It's hard and dangerous work to threaten to bomb a country. So much better to have Uncle Sam do it for them.