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The Axis of Evil and Obama’s Rude Awakening By: Jamie Weinstein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Since entering office, President Barack Obama has taken a conciliatory tone with rogue nations that the Bush Administration previously labeled as part of the Axis of Evil. According to Obama’s narrative, it was the Bush Administration’s failure to engage these countries in meaningful dialogue that has brought about many of the problems we face today.

So from day one of the Obama era, Obama has gone out of his way to woo the Iranian regime. During the Persian New Year Nowruz in March, Obama released a video message to the “people and the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Within these celebrations,” Obama orated, “lies the promise of a new day, the promise of opportunity for our children, security for our families, progress for our communities and peace between nations. Those are shared hopes, those are common dreams.”

These are very likely the aspirations of most Iranians, but these dreams are not clearly shared with the Mullahs that run Iran. Yet, through personal messages and through conduits, Obama has made clear that his election marks a new day and a new approach to dealing with Iran. And through speeches and military actions, the Iranian regime made it clear that they are not very interested in this new day.

While Obama speaks niceties to Iran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad goes to international conferences to spit fire at the United States and its allies. While Obama seeks engagement, Iran provocatively tests long range missiles that put U.S. military bases within their reach. While Obama says that the Iranian regime shares common aspirations of “peace between nations,” the Iranian military just yesterday flexed its muscles by sending six warships into international waters at the same time the always loveable Ahmadinejad rejected any talks with Obama over the Iranian nuclear program. Let us remember, this is an Iranian regime whose Supreme Leader has called Israel a “cancerous tumor,” and whose president has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and longed for a “world without the United States.”

But Obama’s biggest ace up his sleeve is Israel. Obama is not virulently anti-Israel. But he has fallen for the notion that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is the lynchpin to peace in the Middle East and that Israeli settlement construction is among the key obstacles to such a peace deal. Yes, Israeli settlement construction and not 60-plus years of Arab rejectionism. Yes, Israeli settlements and not a terrorist group in control of Gaza that calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. Yes, of course, settlement construction. That is why there is no peace. Sure.

But by getting tough with Israel, Obama hopes to score brownie points with the Arab world and this will somehow translate into greater pressure on Iran. Well, evidently, Iran didn’t get the message.

Meanwhile, North Korea continues to flout the United States and other civilized nations as they did during the Bush Administration. Despite the new era of international love and cooperation that supposedly dawned when Obama took office, North Korea continues to act provocatively by test-firing missiles over Japan and, just yesterday, testing another nuclear bomb.

It appears that instead of taking Obama’s election as an invitation for dialogue, Iran and North Korea have taken his warm gestures as a sign of weakness. Sometimes talking resolves problems. But sometimes leaders of nations don’t want to be charmed. They have agendas and no matter how sweetly you talk or what you offer them in return for cooperation, they will continue pursuing their nefarious vision. Sometimes no matter how nice the host and how nice the tea set, some people just don’t do tea parties.

This isn’t to say that these problems are easy to solve. They are not. But all this nonsense that the Iranian leadership and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il share common goals with the United States, that they just want peace and harmony, is silly. Obama hopes that he can offer North Korea and Iran some type of carrot that can make them abandon their nuclear programs. I would like that to be true as well. But it appears to be a fantasy – one that Obama should disabuse himself of as soon as possible.

While North Korea mocks us and Iran races to nuclear weapons capability, what is the best we can hope for? We can hope that Obama wakes up.

President Obama is a man of immense confidence and also immense pride. If his entreaties are continually spurned by Iran and North Korea, he is unlikely to handle such rejection well. It is actually a positive that Iran is acting in the manner it is acting as opposed to stringing Obama along with false promises that lure him into a sense of complacency. The mullahs’ clear rejection of Obama’s outstretched arm will hopefully make Obama realize the character of the regime he is dealing with.

And if this happens, there is a possibility that Obama will actually come to terms with reality. He may very well put away the rose-colored glasses and understand that the mullahs in Iran and the sadistically cruel dictator in North Korea do not share common values and a common vision with the United States. 

This awakening will not mean we will immediately understand exactly what must be done to deal with North Korea and Iran. These are intensely complex and dangerous situations, situations that have no easy answers. But if this Obama awakening occurs, at least American policy will be formed with a real understanding of the threats we face.

As of now, we look like fools.

Jamie Weinstein is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group.

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