The Obama administration has done its fair share of blame shifting during their first year in office. And it's true that they have inherited a range of problems from their predecessors, but Iran isn't really one of them. The Bush administration's policy of empty threats and hands-off diplomacy toward Iran wasn't productive, but as we're discovering with the Obama administration, engagement isn't working either.
At a news briefing on Thursday, the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, presented this latest metamorphosis of the administrationâ??s thinking: that engagement is not necessarily about the two adversaries, but rather, about the worldview on America. The White House, he said, is trying to get Russia and China to join the United States, Britain, France and Germany â?? a group referred to in diplomatic circles as the P5+1, for the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany â?? in imposing harsher sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of a nuclear program. While it remains unclear whether the effort will succeed, Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obamaâ??s outreach to Iran had paved the way for a united Security Council resolution.
There is no evidence that I'm aware of that but for global opinion of America, countries that were reluctant to levy sanctions against Iran have suddenly become more open to the idea. This is an especially odd view given that Russia and China aren't exactly marching to the beat of their citizens' wishes. Still, the Obama administration may produce enough pressure on both countries to levy sanctions, but that's likely to be the result of Saudi arm-twisting, not a recognition of American beneficence.