Sunday, 20 December 2015 08:08

A Word from London

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A Word from London

Herbert London

Herbert London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of The BDS War Against Israel.

Obama's Julia

Who is Julia? Julia is the eponymous voice of President Obama, a woman invented by the [2012] campaign to demonstrate how this present administration is assisting women in all aspects of life. However, inadvertently it displays the Obama vision of America, a vision right out of 1984 with Big Brother at her side throughout a lifetime.

In this cartoon narrative, Julia evolves from birth to old age with the Obama government locked at her hip. The presumption is that Julia could not succeed without the helping hand of government. When Julia turns three she is enrolled in the federally funded Head Start preschool program. Never mind that empirical evidence indicates Head Start is a failure despite $167 billion spent on this program each year.

In this evolving tale, President Obama's programs prepare her for college, offer free healthcare, student loans, free birth control, of course, a chance to start a business, and an opportunity to retire in comfort and dignity. All of this from a beneficent government eager to carry Julia through the vicissitudes of life's stages.

That reliance on government has a baneful effect on society and on the individual is not entertained by Ms. Julia, nor is there any mention of the incompatibility between the Nanny State and the U.S. Constitution. By the time Julia has reached the age of Social Security she will be burdened with a debt of $45,000. If one multiplies Julia by the thousands, arguably the millions, unemployment will remain unnaturally high, entrepreneurship will be a disappearing concept, and Social Security will assuredly be bankrupt.

One gets the distinct impression Julia is European. She is offered the Faustian deal of cradle-to-grave security by a government promising more than it can or should deliver. In the process, the economy founders, debt mounts, currencies fail, and the moral strength of the West falters.

Julia is to Obama what Goldstein is to Orwell. One is presumably asked to pay obeisance to a female narrative that has an inevitably destructive outcome, albeit not one recognized by the Obama team. Similarly, in 1984 obeisance is paid to Goldstein as the exemplar of government involvement. It is a ritual without purpose. In fact, Julia is also a symbol of government that nurtures and provides even as it takes and devours.

It is one thing to discuss government's role as a "helping hand" when there aren't alternatives, but it is quite another matter to think of government as a crutch to be relied on throughout life. For the Obama campaign team to think this is an appropriate message is revealing. Either Obama operatives believe the public, the female public, will find this narrative appealing or they believe women are too myopic to see the implications in this government scheme.

Suppose for the sake of argument Julia does not have a government on which to rely. She would have to apply her God-given ingenuity to educational choices and finding a healthcare arrangement that's affordable and use her talent to start a business or develop professional skills in order to earn an income. Liberty gives her choices and power. Government may create the illusion of helpfulness, but ultimately it stifles innovation and inventiveness. The most appropriate vision for Julia is empowerment. Unfortunately, despite the frequent employment of this word, government invariably enfeebles and makes one dependent.

If the feminist movement is interested in Julia it should be wary of the cartoon the Obama team has limned. As I see it, Julia should be a free-thinking individual capable of making her own choices in life and independent from the intrusiveness of government action. Julia should avoid personal debt and avoid, as well, serving as an instrument of government policy. She should be sufficiently sensitive to the fact that a government "benefit" comes with a price that is usually unseen.

Needless to say, the Obama team thinks Julia is a campaign attribute, but for thinking individuals this cartoon figure is a caricature implicitly describing all that ails this nation.

The Gulf States Accept the Iran Deal - or Do They?

After a lot of arm-twisting, the Gulf Arab states publicly backed the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran. On the surface, this appears as a diplomatic victory for the president as he seeks to build support for his signature foreign policy initiative. But is this true?

The positive response from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) composed of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain emerged after months of intense lobbying by the White House. What the administration gave up to achieve its goal is a matter of some speculation.

There isn't any doubt that the U.S. will offer advanced military material, intelligence-sharing and training. However, from the outset Saudi Arabian officials have said that whatever capability Iran obtains from the deal should be offered to their country as well.

Secretary of State John Kerry held a summit explaining the terms of nuclear agreement to the GCC, but what is undisclosed is whether he was willing to agree to Saudi terms. In other words, if there is a pathway for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, will the same pathway exist for Saudi Arabia? Kerry refers to the deal with Iran as "the best option." What that means for Saudi Arabia remains unclear.

It is clear, of course, that this GCC backing undermines pro-Israel groups who oppose the Iran deal because it threatens America's Middle East allies, albeit Egypt is conspicuously omitted from the acceptance group. Republicans continue to insist, despite the GCC proclamation, that the Iran accord will jeopardize Israel and American interests in the region. They note, as well, that Tehran will use new oil money and revenues to fund its militant proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.

Notwithstanding GCC acceptance of the deal, several notable officials from the Gulf voiced concern that Washington may weaken its alliance in the area as it pursues rapprochement with Iran. It is therefore incumbent on Washington to assure these nations that they will not be abandoned. From the Sunni Arab perspective, sophisticated weapons, radars, missile defense systems and enhanced intelligence operations may be insufficient as reassurances.

Even Kerry said of Iran, he "hopes that indeed perhaps there could be a turning of the page, but we have to prepare for the possibility and eventuality that it won't." Preparing for the possibility it won't probably means the GCC nations require a deterrent, i.e. nuclear weapons of their own. Is this what Kerry really means when he argues the U.S. will do whatever is necessary to provide security for our allies or does he mean these nations will come under the U.S. nuclear umbrella? In any unfolding scenario either America offers nuclear guarantees, nuclear weapons or a green light to secure these weapons.

As many analysts understood from the outset, negotiations with Iran lead inexorably to proliferation, the very condition President Obama said he was trying to avoid. Just as "verification" for President Obama doesn't really mean verification, but rather selective inspection, "endorsement" by the GCC doesn't really mean endorsement, but rather tentative acceptance based on a laundry list of incentives.

Arab states have learned the fine art of negotiation. They also understand taqiyya - deception - to advance the interests of Islam. What seems to be the case is never quite the case. While Secretary Kerry warns of the worst-case scenario, he acts as if a rosy future awaits the region. Wiser minds see it differently and I side with the wiser minds.

It's Only a Paper Moon

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan recently reaffirmed Iran's position that issues involving Iran's missile program are not matters for discussion. Presumably Iran is determined to keep developing its missile force. As for attempts to clarify Iran's past activity regarding the "military dimensions" of its nuclear program, Dehghan noted that Iran will definitely not grant anyone access to its security and military "secrets."

Concerning statements made by President Obama and Secretary Kerry after the deal was signed, Dehghan said:

The U.S. officials make boastful remarks and imagine that they can impose anything on the Iranian nation because they lack a proper knowledge of the Iranian nation . . . the time has come now for the Americans to realize that they are not the world's superpower and no one recognizes them as such any longer.

In fact, in a clear reference to Obama's "red lines" that seemed to exist only as disappearing ink, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said that several provisions of the resolution constitute "the crossing of red lines" that Iran set, particularly on the issue of military capabilities. As far as Iran is concerned, military matters, including access to ballistic missiles, aren't on any agenda, will not be a bargaining chip, and remain none of the business of the P5+1.

So despite all the claims about peace and stability, the agreement is basically a statement of intention. Verification, to which President Obama refers, is a chimera. Iran will permit inspections when it chooses to do so, notwithstanding Kerry's assurances to the contrary.

In 1933 Billy Rose and "Yip" E. Y. Harburg wrote "It's Only A Paper Moon" with the lyrics:

It's a Barnum and Bailey World
Just as phony as it can be,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

As I see it, the Iran resolution is a "make believe" document filled with intentions that rely on Iranian good will. The one person who contends the "make believe" becomes real is the president, if you believe in him. As a consequence, this arrangement, however you cut it, is a presidential initiative to refashion the Middle East by "offshoring" responsibility for regional stability to the leading state sponsor of terrorism. In this case, a belief in the president must exist without any doubts.

Alas, as Tennyson noted, "The old order changeth." But it is a question of whether the new order enhances stability. From Obama's perspective, U.S. foreign policy is being woven into the fabric of multi-lateral decision-making, a step closer to world government. President Obama is not a naf, as some conservatives contend; he has a plan for a new world order.

The deal with Iran is merely one stage in a multi-stage process to reduce the American footprint on the world stage. In his mind, this agreement will release the U.S. from Middle East obligations and hasten the day when regional powers will fill the vacuum. Obama's choice for the role of surrogate policeman is Iran. Hence, an Iran that can and will acquire nuclear weapons becomes a military and political force with which to be reckoned.

The problem, of course, is that Iran has its own imperial agenda that goes beyond Obama's romantic perception. Iran envisions a Persian empire that includes the oil fields of Saudi Arabia and swaths of territory from Yemen through Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. Obama is the romantic dealing with his dream of a new world order; Iranian leaders see a metaphorical chess board that allows them to move directly to an assault on the Queen.

The question that emerges is "Who is right?" Thus far, there isn't any reason to place confidence in the president's plan since the Iranian leadership is in open defiance. Iranian leaders chant "death to America," then they suggest the treaty will be upheld. In discussing romantic yearnings in foreign policy, Isaiah Berlin once said:

. . . passionate effort at self-assertion both individual and collective, leads a search after means of excusing an unappeasable yearning for unattainable goals.

This seems to be an accurate depiction of the present administration's position. Despite warnings about the danger of an accord in which the U.S. makes the major concessions, President Obama appears to be driven by an "unappeasable yearning," a yearning that cannot be realized when the goal of a cooperative Iran is unattainable. *

Read 4707 times Last modified on Sunday, 20 December 2015 14:08
Herbert London

Herbert London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of The BDS War Against Israel.

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