Saturday, September 28, 2013

Iran & Syria: Obama Talks Softly but carries a Big Stick

Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick Policy
President Obama has confounded his domestic and international critics by adopting the negotiation posture first espoused by President Teddy Roosevelt:

The widespread use of 'speak softly and carry a big stick' began with American president Theodore Roosevelt. In a letter to Henry L. Sprague, on January 26th 1900, he wrote:
"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
Roosevelt claims the phrase to be of West African origin.

Obama has based his whole foreign policy on Roosevelt’s dictum. With Syria and the use of chemical weapons in defiance of the international treaty against such use, Obama was very careful to fashion a negotiation stance based on a tightly focused objective: remove the weapons, by force if necessary.

He as within days of formally launching an attack on selected chemical weapons and related sites within Syria, when a remark by Kerry set off an alternative solution.
Putin, of Russia, read Obama’s statements and gave them the weight they deserved: the man was serious, and the man was going to use force.

Then things speeded up:

Optimism created by the actions on chemical weapons seemed to spill over into the efforts aimed at bringing the Syrian conflict to a peaceful end. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he was now hoping to convene a peace conference in Geneva by mid-November.
The pace reflected a dizzying rush of diplomacy that seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago, when the Obama administration was threatening Mr. Assad with missile strikes in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that left more than 1,400 people dead, including more than 400 children.

Now Iran, having  heard Obama, and realized that this man means what he says, has come to the table to try to negotiate a solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons issue. This pre-emptive strike by Iran is based on their assessment that Obama is following Roosevelt’s Big Stick doctrine, and will prevent, by force, an Iranian nuclear weapon.

However, as with Syria, Obama as been careful in framing the issue. His assurance that the stance against an Iranian nuclear weapons is not part of a regime change policy, and his seeming acceptance of the right of Iran to enrich uranium in order to generate power though nuclear plants, are the two breakthrough messages that seem to have worked – so far – with Iran’s regime.


  1. Oh, dear god, you actually believe that, right? Putin crushed Obama's nuts in a vice and you want us to believe that's what he wanted! And on Iran, you can talk softly all you want but if you don't have a stick then no one will give a damn. Obama just gave the Iranians a victory for nothing in return. This president makes Jimmy Carter look like a striding colossus.

  2. Ratticus, the Cat disagrees: Obama reluctantly concluded force was needed to remove the Syrian chemical weapons; asked the House and Senate to consider their approving it while reserving the right at Commander in Chief to do so even if they refused to agree; lined up France (while others fled for the hills); and then Kerry's musing allowed Russia to rescue their client from the attack by persuading Syria to give up on its weapons.
    The opponents of Obama, without coherent policies of their own except another Iraq, slammed his moves.
    The press, following each other like rats following the Pied Piper, went this way, then that.
    And you seem to have in your measure of a president, the swift adoption of force.
    My vote's with Obama and his style of governing.
    And as for the proof of the pudding, consider this: from being isolated with France, the US has now a unanimous Security Council resolution requiring Syrian to comply with the destruction of its chemical weapons, while still reserving the right for unilateral US force if he fails to comply.
    And that you called having your nuts crushed in a vice???

  3. And every person with a functioning brain knows full well that the Syrian chemical weapons destruction program will fail, as intended, and Russia's client government in Syria will survive. Kerry's musings! As if his massive blunder sparked anything other than Russia seeing an opportunity to embarrass the US.

    Oh, and Iran? They are developing nuclear weapons, sponsoring Hezbollah, and backing Assad, and Obama just gave them another victory by talking in person with their president. Maybe you don't know this, but the president of Iran is a toothless tiger. The real power is with the clerics hence the name Islamic Republic of Iran.

    The only people applauding this farce are the people too stubborn to admit that "The One" is nothing but an amateur.

  4. Rattus, I think the chances are much, much higher that Obama's dialogue with Iran will fail due to Iran's refusal to allow proper inspection - on an ongoing basis - of all nuclear sites. That will bring the US back to square one and everything reverts to what it was a month ago.

  5. The Roots of obama's Indecision.

    "Obama is dogma-ridden. Where Bush was a pragmatist trying to do what worked; he needs to follow a party line. Like the Chinese rocket scientist consulting Mao’s Little Red Book to decide what to do next; he needs the political guidance of the left to come to a decision on anything.
    He can pursue any course as long as he starts with a progressive political program and then does whatever is necessary to put it into action. What he has great difficulty doing is beginning with a necessary action and working backward toward a political program.

    Putin, the former KGB man, has to regard the interaction with an American leader whose Socialist inflexibility exceeds that of any Soviet leader with a certain amount of irony."

  6. Peace in our Time.


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