“Pivot” appears to have become the new watchword at the White House. First, Obama administration sources told Politico that Obama would put off health-care reform negotiations in order to make a “hard pivot” onto job creation and economic stimulus. Today, sources at the White House tell the Wall Street Journal that the administration will also make a pivot on Iran, exhausted from a full year of attempting to sweet-talk them into just discussing an end to their nuclear-weapons program:
President Barack Obama on Monday joined other world leaders in condemning Sunday’s attacks, offering his strongest support yet for Iran’s opposition movement and possibly signaling a less accommodating approach to Tehran.
Speaking in Hawaii, Mr. Obama for the first time publicly demanded Iran’s release of “unjustly” detained political opponents. He joined with European leaders in calling for Iran’s leaders to abide by international conventions on the treatment of political activists.
The Iranian people wish for “justice and a better life for themselves,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “the decision of Iran’s leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.” …
Senior U.S. officials said the Obama administration recognizes that it is now at a “pivot point” in its strategy toward Tehran. This shifting U.S. position, said these officials, has been driven by Iran’s rejection of direct negotiations over its nuclear program and its crackdown on democracy activists in the country.
“Pivot” in this case means exactly what it did in relation to Obama’s domestic agenda priorities. It means a change of direction, which acknowledges that the administration has been going the wrong way before now. We lost over three million private-sector jobs before Obama figured out that overhauling the American health care system that satisfies most people, and over half of the uninsured, was not the greatest crisis facing the US in 2009.
How much have we lost before Obama finally realized the folly of appeasement with Iran? Iran has used the year to further its development of nuclear weapons. Our lack of toughness has created a posture of vacillation that will take some time to overcome. Furthermore, we have lost credibility with those who demand freedom and democracy in Iran, people who waited six months to hear Obama’s words of solidarity issued six months after their protests began over the stolen election.
On several fronts, this has been a lost year. Obama will have to make a number of “hard pivots” in 2010 to right the ship. The question will be whether those pivots put the US in the right direction, or even further off the compass.