I really want to believe in the Obama of “The Obama Doctrine”, Spencer Ackerman‘s brilliant profile of his advisor corps. But when Tony Lake is telling the Financial Times that he “genuinely believe[s] that the most dangerous crisis we are going to face…in the next three to 10 years is if the Iranians get on the edge of developing a nuclear weapon,” it’s hard to keep the faith.
After all, this would be the same Iran that, according to the CIA, suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and hadn’t rekindled it as of last year. This would be the same Iran which, according to Ha’aretz, will suspend uranium enrichment and centrifuge installation for the next six weeks as an olive branch to Western governments, the same Iran whose foreign minister has announced a “new trend” in diplomacy with the West, the same Iran whose Supreme Leader’s staff has admonished Ahmadinejad for his rhetoric (via).
Are the Iranian leadership entirely good-faith actors? Of course not, no country capable of survival is. But to classify a country which maybe kinda sorta might have nukes sometime as more dangerous than countries which actually have nukes is absurd. The hypothetical worst-case scenario with Iran – Iran gets a nuke, funnels it to a terrorist group, terrorist group explodes it in an American city – is hysterically unlikely, but there are merchants in the former USSR peddling bomb-grade uranium right now. Obama’s kept his eye on the ball on this issue in the past, and so it’s very disappointing to see him drop it here. He has a golden opportunity to educate the public about the real threats America faces and stare down right-wing fearmongering, and here, at least, he blew it.