Obama's Bluff Alienated Brazil and Turkey
Obama's foreign policy failures are obvious to all. Robert Gates absurdly blames the EU for the loss of Turkey. James Rubin uses the hollow reed of international public opinion to declare Obama a foreign policy success and not the failure the recent Security Council vote on Iran sanctions revealed it to be. For contrary to Rubin's assertion, Iran is less isolated in the age of Barack Obama than it has been in the Age of George W. Bush and the culprit is none other than Barack Obama. Why? Because our arrogant president made Lula and Erdogan look like gullible fools when he used them in his failed bet on Iranian intransigence.
Since the 2008 economic collapse the developing world including Brazil and Turkey have feted as the powers of the future. Unsurprisingly, they decided to try their new wings in the diplomatic arena. They will show the world that they can solve a problem called Iran. Treading carefully, they checked with Barack Obama personally. The president decided that the best way to secure the Turkish and Brazilian support is to show them how reasonable he can be and how unreasonable Ahmadinejad is. To do so presented the two leaders with a list of American conditions that were by no means sufficient to prevent Iran from continuing its progress towards acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Agreeing to those conditions enabled Iran to create illusion of progress in the nuclear negotiations and to provide Turkey and Brazil with the craved diplomatic success. In other words, the Iranians called Obama's bluff. Obama had no choice but to reject the deal and infuriate two ambitious Third World leaders.
On April 12, 2010, President Barack Obama hosted a forty-seven nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. He met with dozens of heads of state making his case for a fourth set of crippling sanctions on Iran because of its intransigence on the nuclear issue. His main argument was the refusal of Iran to accept the proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of transferring the bulk of Iran's low enriched uranium outside the country in exchange for medical nuclear isotopes.
The following day Obama met with President Luiz Lula Da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey. Both countries are currently members of the UN Security Council, considered friends of the US and are emerging economic and regional powers.
Lula and Erdogan emphasized to the US president the importance of a diplomatic resolution to Iran's nuclear issue in an effort to diffuse the crisis and build confidence-building measures for further negotiations. During the meeting Obama not only encouraged them to pursue a diplomatic breakthrough, but he also vowed to be constructive and flexible, as well as promising to send them in writing the parameters of any deal deemed acceptable to the US.
Encouraged by the American response, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davtoglo flew to Brazil on April 16 to meet with its president in order to coordinate their diplomatic efforts in a last ditch effort to persuade Iran to accept the IAEA proposal. By April 20, the Turkish foreign minister was in Tehran testing the waters regarding a possible resolution to the crisis.
As promised, Obama sent two separate letters on April 20 to Lula and Erdogan detailing the US parameters of a possible deal. He wrote that his proposal represented "a detailed explanation" of his perspective and offered "a suggestion of a way ahead." He said that his offer was based on the proposal put forth by former IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei, which he characterized in the letter as "fair and balanced," and would enable "both sides to gain trust and confidence."
In his letter, Obama detailed four conditions for any resolution to be satisfactory to the US. The first condition was "Iran's agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country." He emphasized that this condition was essential and non-negotiable.
Second, he demonstrated his willingness to be "flexible and creative in order to build mutual confidence" by agreeing "to support and facilitate action on proposal that would provide Iran nuclear fuel using uranium enriched by Iran," a crucial demand by Iran which it has always insisted was its right under the NPT treaty.
Third, Obama offered his acceptance to the compromise suggested by the IAEA last November by allowing "Iran to ship its 1,200 kg of LEU to a third country," suggesting Turkey as the designated country. He went further by offering assurance to Iran that its fuel would be held "in escrow" in Turkey "as a guarantee during the fuel production process that Iran would get back its uranium if we failed to deliver the fuel."
His final condition was that Iran has to convey to the IAEA in writing its "constructive commitment to engagement through official channels."
Armed with the concrete American conditions and after receiving a positive response to negotiate, conveyed to Davtoglo by the Iranian leadership, the foreign minister of Brazil Celso Amorim flew to Iran a week later on April 27, to prepare for a state visit by Lula to hammer out a final agreement based on the American proposal.
The Brazilian president arrived in Tehran on May 15 and was joined by the Turkish prime minister the following day. In an 18-hour negotiation marathon session, the two world leaders impressed on the Iranian leadership the significance of accepting all four parameters outlined in Obama's letter.
On May 17, an agreement based on the American and IAEA proposals was signed by the foreign ministers of all three countries. A week later Iran submitted an official letter to the IAEA acknowledging the pact and stating its intention to transfer its LEU to Turkey within one month once the plan was accepted.
To the complete surprise of Brazil and Turkey, the White House and the State Department dismissed the deal out of hand within 24 hours, rejecting the same principles outlined in Obama's letter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called it "a ploy" before a hearing in the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations on May 18, declaring that a sanctions resolution against Iran in the Security Council is imminent.
Barack Obama demonstrated that he is what Yiddish speakers would call "uber chuchem" and English speakers as "two clever by half." Nothing can alienate Third world leaders more than being played for fools and that is precisely what the man who supposedly understands the Third World has done. Lula may be satisfied with continuing to block the Obama/Clinton agenda with a smile, but given Erdogan's anti-Semitic proclivities, it should not be surprising that he has taken out his wrath on Israel.
After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best way to punish America is to beat up on the Jews. Nazi Germany did it. The Soviet Union did it. Now Islamist Turkey is doing it by further aligning aligning itself with the IHH pro Hamas agenda. Erdogan has succeeded in hurting Israel but has paid for that success by undermining Turkey's hard won standing in the Western world. That is the reason, he is currently running around the country trying to reassure unhappy Turks that he has not turned from the European west to the Muslim south. Turks, of course, know better. Erdogan may follow the Chinese and Iranians and try to censure Google but too many Turks have family members abroad.
Speaking in his ancestral hometown of Rize yesterday as part of his visit to Black Sea-area cities, Erdogan said Turkey was defending the righteous in the case of Israel and that it would not cease to do so regardless of any threats it might receive from international media and some domestic newspapers. He said a black propaganda campaign against Turkey was going on, supported by the international media and pro-status-quo diplomats and newspapers in Turkey, suggesting that Turkey was changing its foreign policy course, drifting away from the West. He said nobody could toy with Turkey's pride. "They know about our sincere efforts to bring peace.
It was, of course, Barack Obama, not Benjamin Netanyahu, who toyed with his Turkish pride and "sincere" peace making efforts. James Rubin may wish to declare Obama's foreign policy a success and the NYT may employ a "Walter Duranty" as a Bureau Chief In Istanbul but sooner or later the truth is bound to catch up with reality. And the reality is that Barack Obama's Third World policy is just as flawed as his First and Second World policies.