Monday, April 12, 2010

Obama's "axis of evil" moment

Last week, ostensibly heralding a more restrained US nuclear weapons policy in advance of Monday's nuclear summit in Washington D.C, the Obama Administration added a qualification that was both unnecessary and in poor taste:
"The US said on Tuesday it would use atomic weapons only in "extreme circumstances" and would not attack non-nuclear states, but singled out "outliers" Iran and North Korea as exceptions."
Why single out any countries as potential targets of attack?  This approach is not likely to prove conductive towards improving relations with the named countries. Bush proved so much with his idiotic "axis of evil" rhetoric.  This kind of talk proved popular at home, but won America no discernible advantage abroad.

The Iranian reaction to the Obama Administration was predicatable:
"The U.S. president has implicitly threatened the Iranian nation with nuclear weapons. These remarks are very strange," Khamenei said on state television. 
The White House rhetoric is easily explained. Obama's predecessor proved that bravado dependably wins a president support from domestic constituencies programed to fear this or that foreign entity.    The downside, of course, is that words can easily be misinterpreted in foreign capitals. Iranian hard-liners can exploit aggressive US rhetoric to their own advantage.   Moreover, the world as a whole becomes cynical when -- time and again --American leaders make convenient or self-interested "exceptions" to principles they profess to uphold.

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