Marc Ambinder has a copy. 54 pages in all, much of it Obama stump speech boilerplate stripped of the incandescent oratorical genius of “Yes we can.” Foreign policy begins on page 23; the section on Iraq is 22 lines long, just nine more than the section on tribal sovereignty on page 50 and 14 more than the section on “don’t ask, don’t tell” on page 30. The Iran section follows below. Is “high-level diplomacy” a euphemism for “presidential diplomacy” or is the climbdown on Obama’s promise at last year’s YouTube debate now complete?
Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons
The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That starts with tougher sanctions and aggressive, principled and direct high-level diplomacy, without preconditions. We will pursue this strengthened diplomacy alongside our European allies, and with no illusions about the Iranian regime. We will present Iran with a clear choice: if you abandon your nuclear weapons program, support for terror, and threats to Israel you will receive meaningful incentives; so long as you refuse, the United States and the international community will further ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions inside and outside the U.N. Security Council, and sustained action to isolate the Iranian regime. The Iranian people and the international community must know that it is Iran, not the United States, choosing isolation over cooperation. By going the extra diplomatic mile, while keeping all options on the table, we make it more likely the rest of the world will stand with us to increase pressure on Iran, if diplomacy is failing.
That’s written carefully and vaguely enough that you can extract whatever you want from it, which of course is the point. Worried that Obama won’t attack if negotiations fail? Don’t be — “all options” are on the table, which isn’t quite the same thing as saying all options will be used but is probably close enough, especially vis-a-vis the opening line, to calm hawks. Worried that Obama will attack if negotiations fail? Don’t be — none of the penalties listed involve anything more draconian than “isolation” and the opening line implies that this isn’t ultimately our problem, which should be enough to calm doves. It reminds me of that NYT piece from earlier this week about Obama the law professor, always delicate in choosing his words, always capable of a thoughtful argument for either side, always maddeningly ambiguous as to his actual position. Barry O keeps his options open, even when it comes to terrorist states with nuclear weapons.
On the upside, the platform does commit to victory in Afghanistan, in part by rebuilding our relationship with Pakistan by ramping up non-military aid and “invest[ing] in the long-term development of the Pashtun border region, so that the extremists’ program of hate is met with an agenda of hope.” Lay aside the foolishness of trying to combat Islamist ideology with anti-poverty measures. Isn’t this just a variation on the Awakening strategy in Iraq that the left is forever deriding? The surge is a hollow victory, the theory goes, because all we’ve done is temporarily bought off the same people who were killing us. Once they’ve decided we’ve done everything for them that we can, they’ll be back to killing us or the Shiites or each other. Now here they are offering essentially the same plan for Talibanistan, except on a grander scale and with the all-important “long-term” qualifier applied to hint that the progress, unlike with the Awakening, will be self-sustaining. Exit question: Is this one of those important lessons Harry Reid’s suddenly learned from Iraq?