The alleged Iranian assassination plot raises a number of issues. First, are the now obsolete words “outreach” and “reset” that were much in vogue in 2008 and 2009. During the campaign Obama reiterated that he might talk to the Iranians in a way Bush simply had been unwilling to, and thereby unlock a supposedly diplomatic impasse; and he cited in his Al-Arabiya interview his desire for outreach to the larger Muslim world, as well as the resonance of his own familiarity with Islam, by virtue of his paternal family members being Muslims. That too would be in stark contrast with the Bush swagger and Texas evangelicalism. Such assumptions translated into silence when hundreds of thousands poured into the streets of Teheran in spring 2009, many expecting words of encouragement from Obama, who instead offered mostly silence and the usual contextualization about America’s past in that part of the world.
Then there were the four serial ‘deadlines’ for Iranian nuclear compliance—by the UN meetings in New York, by the G-20 summit, by the first of the year, and by the face-to-face meetings: all snubbed without consequences. Do we remember now how concessions to Russia were supposed to win Putin’s help in closing down the Iranian nuclear facilities—as if what bothers us also must bother Putin? In addition, there was the continual use of Iranian agents in both Afghanistan and Iraq to oppose American efforts to stabilize those countries. In short, this latest news simply confirms the absurdity of Obama’s 2008 rhetoric and subsequent Iranian policies and so ends the use of ‘reset’ and ‘outreach’ for good as legitimate vocabulary. The plot, in other words, is the epitaph of a failed policy.
(photo credit: kokeshi)