There are three major items where President Obama had taken some of the responsibility for their resolution. There are the Gordian Knott known as the Israeli-Arab (Palestinian) Peace Process, there is ISIS which is beheading and crucifying victims right and left and threatening to expand their reign of terror across the Middle East and threaten to bring ruination to the shores of America and the Nuclear Negotiations with Iran to avoid a nuclear eruption in the Middle East. With such pressing and burdensome problems, one can only hope it has not put off his golf game, after all, a man has to have his priorities straight. The question which needs to be answered in each of these cases is what plan has President Obama put forth and what are the chances his plans have for success. President Obama may be batting better than one thinks, but that also depends on how the President is measuring success.
Taking the Israel-Arab (Palestinian) peace talks first. With the recent conflict initiated by Hamas against Israel out of Gaza the President actually received a saving present as nobody expected any talks or progress as long as the violence continued. We do not know for sure if the fighting is finished as Hamas has threatened numerous times to reinitiate rockets raining onto Israeli towns and cities if their demands for an unabridged and completely free of obstructions or inspections international airport and seaport and the removal of the Israeli arms embargo and the lifting of the Egyptian complete closure of their border including the Rafah crossings. Egypt has already refused to open the Rafah and other crossings between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula as when it has allowed temporary passage in the past it almost always led to terrorist attacks on Egyptian position in Gaza or even in mainland Egypt by Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who Egypt suspects are provided safe haven in Gaza and may actually have a secret base and training area within Gaza. Israel has gone so far as to agree to permit for a trial effort the supplying of Gaza with building provisions including dual use items which in the past Hamas had stolen in large quantities to build their bunkers and tunnels including tunnels into Israel for the purpose of kidnapping Israelis as well as to facilitate attacks on the communities and kibbutzim closes to Gaza. The main reason that Israel stepped up their search for the infiltration tunnels during the last conflict, Defensive Edge, was due to capturing plans which laid out the plans for a huge raid to take place this week during Rosh HaShana, Jewish New Year, replete with fake IDF uniforms and motorbikes in position in the tunnels ready for the assault. Their plans were to abduct tens if not hundreds of Israelis, soldiers and civilians, and then murder as many Israelis as possible even taking raids into central Israel Mumbai style. There is no way logically that anybody could pressure Israel to surrender any position and allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad open access to import whatever they desire, especially with Hamas main provider, Qatar, who just took delivery on their order for top of the line leading edge weapons of war such as Apache Attack Helicopters, Patriot Anti-missile Systems and Javelin anti-tank weapons systems, and in sufficient quantities such as to provide each citizen of Qatar just over $5,000 in weapons each. Their purchase came to $11 billion and one can only wonder what Qatar might be planning to do with all these weapons and why such a purchase coincides with Hamas insisting on two main demands, open borders through which they have unfettered import abilities including weapons one has to assume and the release of hundreds of terrorist prisoners in exchange for the remains of a pair of IDF soldiers. Is it just me or does demanding terrorist releases in exchange for the remains of two dead IDF soldiers sound a bit ghoulish? Peace, or at least a Hudna, has to be achieved before the Peace Process can be restarted and that will depend on the state of the ever so more quickly crumbling unity Palestinian government stands and if there will be elections, highly doubtful. The possibility of elections was one of the main reasons for the Hamas offensive, in order to give Hamas former Prime Minister Haniyeh a boost in the polls as he was lagging Abbas before the fifty day conflict, now polls have him holding almost a two to one advantage over Abbas. The other reason was possible orders from Iran to take the pressure and world’s attention off of their nuclear negotiations, which it definitely had done. President Obama pretty much dodged having the pressures of the peace process hanging over his head.
Taking ISIS next, here President Obama may have pulled a near perfect play with just the right spin and enough wiggle room and blame the Congress and Republicans that he will escape this problem smelling like a rose and unscathed without even pricking his finger on a rose thorn. President Obama gave a somewhat lackluster speech detailing in general terms his outline for initially containing and setting back ISIS on their swarming across Iraq and Syria followed by the United States providing necessary air support and tactical bombing of ISIS vital interests and supplies as well as using airstrikes to weaken ISIS abilities militarily by destroying their heavy equipment and tactical provisions. The President promised tactical assistance and left open the possibility for limited advisors but made clear that the United States was not going to provide the soldiers on the ground and that those who were threatened or may end up threatened would need to step up and do the groundwork, so to speak. President Obama was careful not to predict any resolution and especially a quick resolution or even turn of the situation from its current dangers and those results he placed squarely on the nations in the area to step up, take the lead and provide the resolve necessary to rid the Middle East of the threat from ISIS. The one area where President Obama may find difficulties down the road will come should any of the Syrian rebels who are cleared and vetted to receive aid from the United States should step up and replace ISIS as the next claimant to be the new Caliphate. I wish I had a dollar for every group whose leader thought himself worthy of leading the new Caliphate as the Caliph. President Obama also stated that all he could promise was that ISIS abilities would be degraded in the short term and that it would likely take time before any noticeable progress would be made. He stated clearly that the United States efforts alone will not resolve the ISIS situation and that a quick victory is not to be expected. He definitely made it clear that the fight with ISIS will not be an issue in this fall’s election and very well may still be undecided by the time the 2016 Presidential elections arrive and that would only be because the nations of the Middle East had not taken the initiative to resolve the problem. He will be doing exactly what he laid out and that would be it, the rest was up to those in the thick of things to take the offensive and resolve.
This is where the measure of President Obama’s efforts is dependent upon what it is President Obama intended to have for the outcome. The talks with Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, Britain, France + Germany) have been progressing even slower than has the Iranian progress in producing nuclear weapons. The first thing any discussion of these negotiations must cover is the position of the members of P5+1. The easiest two are Russia and China as they really are not all that concerned should Iran become a nuclear power as they do not fear such as a threat to them or any of their allies. Russia has friendly relations, trading relations and is in negotiations to build five additional nuclear reactors within Iran and China is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and had friendly trade relations. Germany and France take an official position opposing Iran becoming a nuclear power and claims to enforce any embargoes and sanctions but had near immediate trade missions rushing to Iran as soon as some of the sanctions were eased up upon. Britain also takes a similar position as France and Germany but was somewhat more reserved about rushing into deals with Iran when the sanctions were eased. The United States is a bit more difficult to explain as it all depends upon which department and branch of the government you are referring to as to where they stand on Iran becoming a nuclear power. The State Department would be equally satisfied no matter which way the problem resolves. They have a fair number of highly placed individuals who believe that it would be only fair to have Iran become a nuclear power in order to be a balance against the Israeli nuclear arsenal. These same people would be simply fat and happy should every nation in the Middle East became a nuclear power balancing the Israeli power and they see no possible threat to world peace should such a scenario become realized. The Defense Department is against any nation having nuclear weapons outside the United States as such would make their jobs so much easier. The Congress has made their stance well known by their actions, though the two houses do not apparently agree, or at least do not act in harmony. The House of Representatives has passed numerous pieces of legislation demanding harsher sanctions be placed upon Iran and when the Administration eased some of the sanctions the House of Representatives went all out passing even stricter sanctions legislation for Iran sanctions. Fortunately for the President, the House of Representatives cannot force him to have to decide whether to sign or veto such legislation, at least not without the Senate also passing the legislation the House of Representatives passed. The Senate has yet to make their positions clear as the legislations from the House of Representatives never seem to find their way to the Senate floor for discussion. They do not even make it into committee for discussions and a vote. Actually, it is unknown what happens to these pieces of legislation once they are sent to the Senate, it is as if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid uses them to light cigars or something, but they appear to get lost somewhere in his office waiting for scheduling to appear on the docket for Senatorial considerations. I suspect that the Senate Majority Leader is acting as a shield for the White House and simply stonewalling the House of Representatives legislation on the Iranian nuclear sanctions.
That leaves the opinions of President Obama. Judging from what President Obama has stated on the record and in speeches and answering the Press, he is dead set against Iran ever developing nuclear weapons and is prepared to do whatever it takes to prevent such an eventuality. He has regularly stated in response to the possibility of using the military option to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb as stating that the military option “is on the table” and still a viable and available choice. Judging from what we have observed and input from several sources it appears safe to say that the military option is most definitely on the table and on the table is where it will remain as long as President Obama controls the table. It would be a good guess to say that everything that is on the table will remain there and that the negotiations will remain locked up with Iran slowly but surely diluting the sanctions and nobody taking step one to shore them up and keep what is left on the sanction in place. The most dependable action from the Administration has been the leaks at the most inopportune time when they will have the greatest effect in demolishing any plans Israel might be putting together to attack the Iranian nuclear program such that Israel is placed back at square one. This has included leaks of confidential information which Israel had provided willingly to what was perceived to be an ally and since the initial couple there has always been somewhere in the ruling coalition, even in the Security Cabinet, a mole feeding the American Administration any plans and other important items vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear program and Israeli plans. Early on in Prime Minister Netanyahu current stint the leaks were provided, it is suspected, by then Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. Who is the responsible person currently is anybody’s guess. We have our favorites but without definitive proof it would be unwise to throw around loose accusations. From all appearances, President Obama is simply attempting to run out the clock with either proof of an Iranian nuclear devise being tested or, Heaven forbid, used proving beyond any doubt that Iran has become a nuclear power or until his term runs out and he can pass this problem to the next occupant of the White House. Another possibility is that it is known though not publicized that Iran has already joined the nuclear weapons possessing club and is making additional weapons as we speak and is simply carrying on with the negotiations so as to wait until the next President takes office and six months into power is faced with proof of an Iranian nuclear device. The probability that Iran has not already realized and made the necessary developmental requirements to produce almost any nuclear device from a simple atomic bomb to a complex Hydrogen miniaturized warhead that with selectable yields and multiple warhead design capable of delivering as many as eight warheads each individually guided to separate targets is highly likely. The only lacking item, if there is such, might be a missile system capable of reaching anywhere on the globe. That is the question, does Iran possess an ICBM capable of hitting the United States and anywhere else they may choose. Iran has placed satellites into low Earth orbit which implies they have such capability though guidance may leave something to be desired, but with such weapons accuracy is not as crucial to strike and damage targets such as cities. It will be interesting to find out how much President Obama knew and when he attained such knowledge on a number of different and disparate subjects but that will have to wait for history to reveal, I should live that long. Until then we can only assume and guess and then wait for the doubters’ scorn.
Beyond the Cusp