What Is Coming

Family Security Matters

The  State of the Union address by President Obama is a month away, but the content  and orientation of that speech can be limned from White House briefings. Rather  than discuss failures such as a healthcare website that still rejects applicants  or ellipses such as the unrecorded conversations about the U.S. Embassy in  Benghazi or political coercion such as the selective IRS vetting process for  not-for-profit organizations, the president will concentrate on the deal with  Iran as a major achievement.

He  will not use the Neville Chamberlain rhetoric of “peace in our time” that could  easily backfire, but he will make the dubious claim that the deal with Iran has  reduced tensions in the Middle East. Moreover, he will maintain that his  administration has accomplished with diplomacy what his adversaries believe can  only be accomplished with war. The exaggerations come with the  territory.

Amid  great fanfare, the president will note, in an effort to win support among  pro-Israel representatives and senators, that Iran has agreed – in what is  likely to be an ambiguous pledge – not to challenge the existence of Israel.  This pledge will not be a treaty or even a statement with adjectival cover, but  it will be greeted with applause and commendation.

In  the shadows stand the major Sunni nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, that  feel betrayed by U.S. policy. The Israeli leadership has already described “the  deal” as “an historic mistake,” but after the State of the Union speech will  recognize the policy shift and a “sell-out.”

Of  course, President Obama, while taking credit for the “breakthrough,” will note  we must be vigilant and we should realize this is only the first phase in a  multiphase process. But this cautionary note will be disregarded by the D.C.  press corps eager to enhance the president’s reputation. In fact, the president  is probably relying on that outcome.


The  naysayers will be put in the back benches. No one wants to hear that this deal  brings us closer to the brink of war. The cheering will drown out the  cassandras. Most significantly, it will drive off the front page stories about  the Affordable Healthcare Act, the hearings on Benghazi, the NSA leaks and the  IRS debacle. For a week the White House will be in thralldom with backslapping  at every meeting in the Oval office.

Most  of the public loves Pangloss, Voltaire’s’ lovable optimist. The president will  be in that role. Are we safer today that we were before this rapprochement, the  president will ask. His answer is obvious, even though hard-headed realists will  describe the president’s view as pollyannish.

War  clouds over the horizon do not disappear because we will that to happen. Soft  power in the form of diplomacy works when hard power stands astride. It is not  uncommon in history for totalitarian nations to issue empty pledges in order to  promote their interests. In fact, in most nations interests trump principle. For  Iran, lies are an extension of interests with the goal of a Shia Crescent firmly  rooted in the government vision. The basic structure of a deal, along the lines  recently negotiated, has been on the table for a decade. Since what the U.S. is  getting is a freeze, not a roll-back, Iran has much to gain and little to  lose.

Nonetheless,  the manner in which this event is played out has almost nothing to do with  reality. President Obama has demonstrated that he prefers campaigning to  governing. This State of the Union address will be a campaign speech to retain  Democratic control of the Senate in 2014. The substance of the speech is almost  irrelevant; it’s the effect that counts. My guess is that President Obama will  gain several percentage points on as national approval rating that has been  sliding. And that may be just enough for the Democrats to maintain leadership in  the Senate.

Some  contend that many Americans have become cynics. That may be true; but if it is  true, there lies behind it a suspicion that government cannot be trusted. For  me, the State of the Union address will simply be more ammunition for that  stance. Believe the president at your own risk, for the dogs of history have  been untethered and remain a dangerous pack on the world  stage.

Read more: Family Security Matters http://familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/what-is-coming#ixzz2ofgSWUmr Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

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