Via CNS News, while Shotgun Joe was busy yammering here about all options still being on the table, Iran was busy announcing that they’re building 3,000 new uranium centrifuges. Uranium enrichment is, of course, the keystone of their nuclear program — but maybe not their only option. Read this interview with UN nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen from the Journal this weekend. Heinonen claims that an informant told him back in 2003 that Iran had two secret nuke sites in production, one of which was located near Qom. That turned out to be true; the Fordo facility is buried in a mountain close to that city. The other site, if it exists, has never been found, although the informant claimed it was designed to produce heavy water. Why’s that significant? Because a heavy-water nuclear reactor produces plutonium as a byproduct and plutonium can be processed into an atomic bomb of the sort used in Nagasaki. If Iran’s working on that type of weapon too then destroying their enrichment facilities won’t necessarily finish their bomb program.
But never mind that. If you want to know how seriously O takes war, today’s must-read is by Vali Nasr at Foreign Policy accusing the White House of serial mismanagement of Afghanistan in the name of political expediency. It’s long but devastating. Take advantage of the slow news day to read it in full. A choice bit:
[T]he president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics. Their primary concern was how any action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been reshaped to accommodate partisan political concerns…
The Obama administration’s approach to reconciliation … is not exactly what Holbrooke had in mind for a diplomatic end to the war. Holbrooke thought that the United States would enjoy its strongest leverage if it negotiated with the Taliban when the country had the maximum number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan. He had not favored the Afghanistan surge, but once the troops were there, he thought the president should use the show of force to get to a diplomatic solution.
But that did not happen. The president failed to launch diplomacy and then announced the troop withdrawal in a June 2011 speech, in effect snatching away the leverage that would be needed if diplomacy were to have a chance of success. “If you are leaving, why would the Taliban make a deal with you? How would you make the deal stick? The Taliban will talk to you, but just to get you out faster.” That comment we heard from an Arab diplomat was repeated across the region…
It was to court public opinion that Obama first embraced the war in Afghanistan. And when public opinion changed, he was quick to declare victory and call the troops back home. His actions from start to finish were guided by politics, and they played well at home. Abroad, however, the stories the United States tells to justify its on-again, off-again approach do not ring true to friend or foe. They know the truth: America is leaving Afghanistan to its own fate. America is leaving even as the demons of regional chaos that first beckoned it there are once again rising to threaten its security.
He ran in 2008 as the “smart power” candidate who’d recommit to the war in Afghanistan and make sure that it could never again be used as a safe haven by jihadis. He went through the motions for 18 months after getting elected, but ultimately the Taliban called his bluff and now here we are. Bear that in mind as you watch Biden run through his tough-guy shtick below. Exit question: Is it really true that the guy who traded Hosni Mubarak for the Muslim Brotherhood and who appointed Chuck “Jewish Lobby” Hagel as his defense secretary has done more for Israel’s security than any president in modern history?