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Obama Flunks the 3 A.M. Test Print E-mail

By Joel J. Sprayregen
April 24, 2009

While President Obama was speaking in Prague about nuclear disarmament, North Korea delivered the most tellingly timed comment on The Trip. The Pyongyang rogue regime -- proprietor of a nuclear arsenal -- defiantly launched an intercontinental multi-stage rocket in violation of an explicit U.N. Security Council resolution.

The President used strong words about the rocket launch:

"Rules must be binding.  Violations must be punished.  Words must mean something."

Obama flunked his first 3 A.M. test.

Tragically, there were no actions to match Obama's words.  This President prefers to use the United Nations, rather than U.S. power, to protect world peace.  Ludicrously, the Security Council immediately convened in emergency session.  Guess what?  After hours of futile discussion, it adjourned without taking action.

A week later, the Council issued a  toothless statement "condemning" the launch.  Several Council members pointedly pre-empted Obama from bragging about this charade by noting that only a "resolution" -- in contrast to  a mere "statement" -- is legally binding. The Russian/Chinese vetoes protect the rogues, and all of Obama's "engagement" and concessions have not moved these countries to do anything about the North Korean threat. 

Pyongyang immediately showed its  brazen  contempt for the U.N. and Obama's diplomacy by announcing it is quitting the "Six-Party talks," expelling IAEA inspectors and restoring  nuclear facilities it had agreed to disable . This will allow reprocessing fuel rods to make plutonium.  The end product is likely to be delivered to Iran and Syria, or possibly, G-d forbid, to Hezbollah and Hamas for desperately needed cash. 

To be fair, the policy of appeasing   fanatic  Pyongyang -- which starves its own civilians to death -- through food deliveries  for its army  and the "Six-Party talks" originated under Clinton and continued  under Bush, who  unwisely removed North Korea from the list of terrorist states.

North Korea has gotten away with breaking every promise it made, including restarting a closed nuclear reactor.  When I visited Seoul and U.S. military bases near the North Korean border last year, I noted that the world's ninth largest economy was menaced by the world's fourth largest army.  North Korea now threatens much of the world.  The real Obama response to the unlawful launch can be found in this declaration quietly made in Seoul by Stephen Bosworth, chief U.S. envoy to North Korea:

"Regardless of the short-term problem, everyone has a long-term interest in getting back to the negotiations in the 6-party process as expeditiously as possible."

In my non-objective view, this characterizes the Obama approach to defending our national security.  The aim is to continue blathering in multilateral forums, no matter how dysfunctional, rather than taking effective action.  As the Wall Street Journal  (but not liberal media) headlined, "North Korea crisis tests Obama's reliance on U.N."  The deafening non-response to North Korea's "serious act of provocation" (Obama's words) is linked lethally to the other disaster of The Trip, i.e., Obama's failure in meetings with many heads of state to advance forward even one inch in thwarting Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Iran, which recently tested its own long-range missile, had observers present at the North Korean launch.  The two terrorist states (both are on my list) collaborate on nuclear development.

No Progress on Iranian Threat

Since there can be no doubt that the gravest contemporary threat to international security is Tehran's nuclear quest,  it therefore seems clear that the world is a far more dangerous place than it was when Obama embarked on his journey. The rogue states are flexing their muscles while our government opts for fruitless "negotiations."  To confirm this, let's look closely at Iran's responses to Obama's publicized attempts at "engagement."  Secretary Clinton announced proudly that at the end of a conference on Afghanistan, "Our special representative, Richard Holbrooke had a brief and cordial exchange with the head of the Iranian delegation."

Iran announced the next day:  "There was no official or unofficial meeting or conversation between the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the America on the sidelines of the conference.  We do not play hide and seek with anyone.  Our policies are clear."

Those policies include Iranian demands that, prior to negotiations the U.S. must renounce support of Israel, cancel sanctions and unfreeze Iranian assets.

Tehran Ridicules Obama

Analysis of Obama's speeches in Turkey reveals he has not stopped at dropping Bush's demands that Iran cease uranium enrichment before  we negotiate directly; our demand to cease enrichment is being watered down to "no nuclear weapons" under amorphous international inspection. Thus, a Tehran newspaper headlined on April 4: "The U.S. capitulates to the nuclear goals of Iran."

The Obama Administration announced on April 8 that it will join in six-party nuclear negotiations with Iran.  Those are the same negotiations in which Iran has endlessly stalled the European powers as if they were negotiating the price of a carpet.  Iran's contemptuous response (reported in overseas media, not by the New York Times): "We will review it and then decide about it."

State Department spokesman Robert Wood obsequiously replied:  "We hope that the government of Iran chooses to reciprocate."

Iran declared the day after the U.S. announcement  that it had installed 7,000 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment facility.  In further appreciation of Obama's "engagement," Iran charged an American journalist with spying and announced, through its president, that it has mastered the final stage of nuclear fuel production.

Can any sane person contend that the result is other than an inexorable Iranian march toward assembling a nuclear arsenal while American deterrence is fast receding toward invisibility?  I exclude from the company of sane observers the New York Times'  fatuous Roger Cohen who -- replicating Times predecessors  who assured that Stalin and Castro were democratic reformers -- has made himself for Iran what Lindberg was for Hitler in 1936.  Keep in mind that Iran's apocalyptic Shi'a Islam believes that nuclear retaliation against it would hasten universal redemption and that Iran supplies weapons to terrorist proxies.  Also that Iranian nuclear capability would spark nuclear proliferation in the combustible Middle East, as well as possible Israeli pre-emption.

Obama  sycophants  will argue that I am caviling when I should be kvelling over the theatrics of Obama's parleying with world leaders and students  and addressing Turkey's Islamist Parliament.  If I  wanted to amplify, I could elaborate on additional Obama overtures which further endangered our country:

(1) offering to scrap U.S. development of modernized nuclear weapons while Russia scraps obsolete warheads;

(2) informing the Russians, without reciprocation, that we will abandon anti-missile defenses in   central and eastern  Europe;

(3) letting the Europeans get away with not making any meaningful troop contributions in Afghanistan (oh yes, the French are sending a few gendarmes, but their police can not even keep the streets of Paris safe, as evidenced by  the  French chief rabbi's advice that observant Jews not wear yarmulkes in public lest they be mauled by Muslim hoodlums; 

(4)  announcing drastic cuts in U.S. defense, especially the F-22 fighter and missile defense; and

(5)  courting a Turkish prime minister who aspires not to build a democratic secular society but rather to lead the Islamic world as the ally of Iran and Syria and the protector of Hamas and the Sudan (imagine what Ataturk would have thought about Turkey's chairing the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which seeks to make criticism of Islam a universal crime?)  Obama's negotiations in Turkey make it likely that never again will NATO choose as its top official a European politician who champions freedom of the press against those who seek to muzzle criticism of Islam.

Pray That I Am Wrong

Obama refused French suggestions that he visit D-Day beaches and cemeteries.  Why did he fear to recall American heroism which saved Europe from Hitler? Times diplomacy pundit emeritus Leslie Gelb understands in Power Rules, his new book on foreign policy,  that power is "what is what it always was -- essentially the capacity to get people to do what they don't want to do by pressure and coercion, using one's resources and position...and that only the U.S. is a true global power with global reach."  

Even Gelb's pro-Obama successor, Tom Friedman, asserts in his April 15 column that to change the conduct of Iran and North Korea, "... we would have to generate much more effective leverage  from the outside ...through a a bigger and longer U.S. investment of money and power, not to mention allies." 

In contrast Obama believes that unilateral a priori concessions and "engagement" through multilateral parleying,  which further dilutes American power, can move malign actors like North Korea and Iran to do things they don't want to do, like refraining from assembling nuclear arsenals with extensive intercontinental   delivery systems.

President Obama  missed his opportunity on The Trip to use his charisma to persuade our allies to stand fast against the rogue states.  North Korea's flinging the gauntlet at Obama proves that our President has flunked his first 3 A.M. test. 


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