Thursday, July 1, 2010
Obama grows into commander-in-chief role
Today's White House ceremony marking the signing of new economic sanctions against Iran illustrates the recognition by U.S. President Barack Obama that his well-meaning leftist ideology does not always translate well to international affairs. The kind of world Obama envisioned when he spoke so hopefully in Cairo just after taking office in 2009 is not the kind we have. Iran has not responded forthrightly to U.S. efforts to convince Tehran to abandon nuclear weapons development and, instead, has threatened the United States and its allies -- notably Israel. Iran denies trying to develop nuclear weapons and insists its program is for peaceful purposes. But Tehran has lied before and, given the tense relations between Iran and the United States almost continuously since the violent 1979 revolution that replaced the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran with an Islamic government, could reasonably be expected to do so again. Previous rounds of sanctions imposed by Western nations have not been effective in getting Iran to honestly discuss its nuclear ambitions. Obama's endorsement of further sanctions -- this time, expected to restrict Tehran's import of oil for domestic purposes and severely penalize private companies that enable Iran to get around them -- indicates that he, too, is frustrated by the lack of progress and convinced of the need to take determined action short of outright war. "There should be no doubt -- the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," Obama said at the signing of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. "With these sanctions -- along with others -- we are striking at the heart of the Iranian government's ability to fund and develop its nuclear programs. We are showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences." Iran has already starting feeling the effects of the newly toughened sanctions, Reuters said. French oil giant Total announced it would stop selling refined fuel to Tehran and Spain's Repsol withdrew from a contract to help develop Iran's South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, the news service said.