As if President Barack Obama didn’t have his hands full at home
with his party’s loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, the
collapse of health care reform and a disorganized war against the
banks, he now faces a major foreign policy setback too. Since the 2008
presidential campaign, Obama has promised to curtail Iran’s nuclear
program by simultaneously offering talks and threatening sanctions.
After a year of trying, both approaches appear on the verge of failure.
The President has given Iran two deadlines to demonstrate good
faith. Last spring, his Administration told reporters that if Iran
didn’t show willingness to engage in talks by September, sanctions
would follow. Then, in September, when Iran hinted it might possibly
talk, Obama delivered another deadline, this time the end of 2009.
Iran’s response to these deadlines has been repeated delay and
obfuscation. First, in the spring it delivered a lengthy manifesto
about global peace irrelevant to the issues at hand. The summer months
were taken up with Iran’s election turmoil, but following talks with
the U.S. and its international partners in the fall, Iran hinted it
might be willing to accept a deal un…