Conservative Plan for Iran: Dissemble about Obama Plan for Iran
Posted by Patrick Barry
An unfortunate side effect of attending a bloggers' conference is that it leaves you with very little time to blog, especially when the conference is as enriching as the one I just attended, hosted by the fine people over at the Middle East Institute. One thing that has apparently continued, even if my blogging hasn't, is the dissembling perpetuated by opponents of the Obama administration's policy of engaging Iran. Michael Rubin's piece flagged by James is the latest example. Looking at the revelation of Iran's secret nuclear facility, as well as their recent missile test, Rubin concludes that its enough to put "a nail in the coffin of the Obama doctrine" of engagement.
Given the tendency of former Bush administration officials to mistake means with ends, Rubin's take is understandable. It also has the advantage of being totally wrong. For the billionth time - ENGAGEMENT IS NOT THE GOAL. It never was. The Obama administration has been perfectly consistent on this point, stating it again and again. At a briefing at the State Department put together by MEI, a senior administration official working on Iran emphasized repeatedly that engagement was NOT the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran. What he did emphasize is that engagement is an instrument for clarifying Iranian intentions, including on the issue of their nuclear program. From that perspective it doesn't seem to have failed at all. To the contrary. When was the last time the IC was so unified in its position toward Iran? Even the Russians seem to have moved closer toward the view that Iran's recent behavior has been pretty concerning.
Not only do the Michael Rubins of the world tend to ignore this, when you consider that engagement-as-a-means has become a near-constant refrain by the administration, it appears as though they're doing it willingly.