Shortly before President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, Iranian Revolutionary Guards gunboats seized and detained 2 ships belonging to the United States military and the ten marines on board. Less than 24 hours later the marines were released. The typical chorus and rhapsody of neoconservative pundits seriously believed that this would be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and Obama would have the guts to stand up to the Persians.
The assumption that the Obama administration works according to the same rule book that past Presidents have is a perception that just doesn’t fit. The Obama administration won’t risk war with Iran, not because it believes war is bad. Afterall they toppled Gaddafi. They won’t risk war with Iran, because Obama and team and their shrills in the media believe wholeheartedly that Iran should be seen as a future strategic partner. After all, Obama didn’t even mention the captive soldiers in his State of the Union Address. Of course for Obama, this is more to do with his world outlook than strategic positioning.
Barack Obama is a transformational President. In that regard, bridging the divide with Persia, a country he believes deserves respect because of their ancient roots, fits in with his restructuring of geopolitical partnerships.
Furthermore, it is quite probable the action Iran took was undertaken from the beginning as a means to show that they are actually reasonable. Given Obama’s rapprochement with Iran, he is more than willing to let Iran play the part of a reasonable actor.
Israel In a Corner
Bibi Netanyahu’s entire mantra is that one should not negotiate with irrational actors as was done with North Korea. Bibi has from the beginning tried to prove that Iran and North Korea are very similar. This has fed into Obama’s strategy of showing the opposite. By inculcating in the American people that Bibi and Israel are saber rattling and preventing what should otherwise we be a rapprochement, then the bad guys backed by the neocons is really Israel.
Once again the the chess match between Bibi and Obama has entered another back and forth phase. The challenge for Israel is realizing they are playing at a chessboard alone as their challenger plays with very different rules and a far more sinister goal.