Wednesday, 2 October 2013

President Obama's foreign policy weakness gives EU's Baroness Ashton a rare moment of glory

But now the 57-year-old baroness is suddenly at the center of world diplomacy. And whenever she is mentioned, she earns praise for her hard-nosed negotiating skills, her stamina and her diplomatic talents. It is said that US Secretary of State John Kerry has much faith in her. "She is discrete and perceptive, but also tenacious. That makes her an ideal negotiator," says Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the head of Germany's business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament and a member of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.

What's the cause for all this enthusiasm? After negotiations about the Iran nuclear issue appeared on the brink of collapse, the main parties are finally returning to the table. The next round of talks is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Geneva. The West's aim at the meetings in Switzerland is to test whether the Iranians are actually "serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions," as US President Barack Obama said Monday evening after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
The word in diplomatic circles is that this diplomatic renaissance can primarily be attributed to Ashton. In recent months, she has spoken on the phone four times with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who studied in the United States and gives the impression of being effectively pro-West. --

After praising the Baroness, the Spiegel writers at least have added some words of realism in the end of their article:

...the new Iranian government has yet to make any substantial concessions. But time is running short for the West, and a report published in August by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stating that Iran is continuing to pursue its uranium-enrichment activities unabated, has only increased the pressure. At the White House on Monday, Netanyahu repeated his warning that the West should not let itself be hoodwinked by Tehran's charm offensive, stressing that: "Iran is committed to Israel's destruction." President Obama also struck a tough note, saying: "It is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient."

The problem with the likes of Obama and Ashton is that contrary to what they say, they actually seem to think that words are sufficient.

The Washingtons Post's columnist Jennifer Rubin rightly has some words of warning:

President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone on Friday, an event greeted with unbounded — and inadvisable — enthusiasm by the chattering class.
The substance of the call and the president’s remarks afterward were deeply worrisome. Whenever the president parrots the idea that the problem is “mistrust” between the parties — one an open democracy and the other a theocratic dictatorship — you know it’s trouble. In doing so, the president merely reinforces Iranian propaganda that we bear equal responsibility for this “mistrust.”

The problem is not that Iran “mistrusts” us or that there is some religious prohibition on nuclear weapons; it is that the mullahs’ regime sponsors terror, helps kill Americans, threatens its neighbors, represses its people, holds Americans against their will and violates sanctions prohibiting development of nuclear weapons.

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