Tuesday, November 3, 2009


November 2, 2009

We have heard from weeks now - or since the last time I have been able to get away from an adorable but fussy newborn baby :-) - about the missteps that the Obama Administration has taken regarding our overseas missions. That, perhaps, we should be willing to commit more troops to the effort in Afghanistan, thus taking the advice given by General Stanley McChrystal. Or, rather, we should continue to strengthen our efforts in Iraq, particularly with the latest bombings and other disturbances that are costing lives on the ground - both American and otherwise.

Or, most notably, we should stop dancing around the Iranian nuclear issue, especially as Iranian leadership continues to show a willing to move towards acceptance into the world's nuclear community.

Recently, everyone from former Vice President Dick Cheney to former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has criticized both the Iranian government's actions as well as President Obama's continued "dithering" on the plan to move forward.

Conservative critics are getting their message to the president: be tough with a regime that has yet to respect the order of day, the people of other cultures, and the will of the free world - do not acquiesce. Now, the question is whether that same message will be agreed to and passed along from the Obama Administration to Ahmadinejad and others within Iran, with the pressure of that message making the difference between continuing a covert nuclear weaponry campaign and reeling in a government more intent on rogue intentions than global cooperation.

Like the childhood game of "Telephone", the question on the American side of the equation comes down to how much that message of stern resolve on the Iranian nuclear issue comes to bear once incorporating the varying opinions and approaches that encompasses our foreign policy over the past several years. What can be easily forgotten is that the holdover of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, combined with the new direction that President Obama is taking, provides an interestingly crossroads of perspectives tying the past two administrations. So far, America has taken a diplomatic approach towards Iran, only to be rewarded with inflammatory rhetoric and hidden nuclear facilities. Will the influence of Gates (and, by proxy, the Bush Administration) and a dose of Cheney and conservative viewpoints impact the next steps with the Iranians, especially if their public actions do not equal a stoppage in their secretive march towards nuclear weapons?

The message has been sent many sides - not only a side of American politics that longs for tougher actions against those that threaten American liberty and her allies overseas, but a side represented by the Nobel Peace Prize coalition, one that seeks to influence more diplomatic efforts by the Obama Administration through encouragement that included the 2009 Peace Prize. Very rarely does a message come "crystal clear" from one source to the next, but in this instance, there will be a clear influence of one tactic over another in the messaging that is sent to Iran, al-Qaeda, and other enemies to American allies and interests overseas. Obama and his team will speak clearly, but what is ultimately said boils down to what line of communication (and subsequently what tactic) he keeps open to him to use.

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