Less than half of the Americans who had watched last Sunday's elimination pro-football games, also watched the State of the Union Address by President Obama, and so did I, with great anticipation.
I knew that, as it is customary, foreign policy issues would be left to the end of the speech just before "Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America."
Obama delivered, in my opinion, one of the best State of the Union speeches I can recall. But that's not how he started out. Soon after he started out he declared, "We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world."
I do have a problem believing that claim- I've been around, you know! There is indeed a big difference between respect and fear. Listening to the Republican candidates' bellicose chest thumping on the debate stage one gets the distinct impression that to some people fear is synonymous with respect. But I don't believe Mr. Obama thinks that way; at least I hope he does not.
The President did finally get to the foreign policy issues. I was quite concerned as to how he would approach the subject, particularly when it came to the Iran issue. This is an elections year and the public has been amply saturated with anti-Iran sentiments and well primed to accept the Iranian "threat" as real and deserving of America's serious response. While his Republican rivals, specifically Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney (let's ignore the pipsqueak American ayatollah, Rick Santorum), are gung-ho to start bombing Iran, how could anyone expect Obama to shy away from similar bombastic remarks?
Here is where Obama's genius shone through. No, he did not shy away from making equally boisterous threats against Iran, but with a telling and quite significant caveat. He said, "Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal." (My emphasis)
Please note that in spite of all the hype about the threats by Iran of closing the Strait of Hormuz, which the Administration had warned would trigger a US response, no mention was made by the President of this "red line". No mention was made, either, about a blockade against Iranian oil exports through the Persian Gulf, an act that Iran had declared would lead to Iran's attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz, even though the issues of an oil blockade and the promised Iranian response would have been the main triggers for a military action by the United States based on the "no options off the table" phrase!
Well, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency and all other intelligence sources and experts in the field, there is no evidence that Iran's legal nuclear enrichment and research activities are aimed at developing nuclear weapons; not yet, anyway.
Kam Zarrabi is the
author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs,
particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
The Iranian government has also declared repeatedly that its nuclear enrichment and research operations are peaceful and within their rights as signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty, which the nuclear-armed Israel has refused to join.
So, as long as there is no evidence to the contrary, President Obama shall have no reason to opt for any military action against Iran, regardless of what options remain on the table. That's good!
Of course, that's not to say, should the shifty-eyed Romney or the charlatan Gingrich somehow end up in the Oval Office, that bombing of Iranian strategic targets would begin. Unlike their colleague, Rick Santorum, both these men do have the brains to differentiate between campaign rhetoric and realities on the ground.
Am I an incorrigible optimist? Perhaps I am. But, at least based on my track record, you'd better pray I am right this time, too!
Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:
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