Obama pivots on Iran?

Barack Obama will make an appearance today at the AIPAC conference, attempting to convince the pro-Israeli lobby that he fully supports Israel and stands against her enemies. That will take a nifty bit of pivoting, as Danielle Pletka notes in today’s Weekly Standard. On Iran, he has managed to get to Dick Durbin’s left in opposing an amendment that urged the State Department to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, which passed despite Obama’s objections:

The story begins nine months ago, when the Senate took up debate on the so-called Kyl-Lieberman amendment–a bipartisan measure that urged the U.S. government to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

These designations are more than just rhetorical; labeling the IRGC as a terrorist organization brings to bear a range of powerful sanctions that crack down on its ability to work in the global financial system.

The proximate cause of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was a growing dossier of evidence from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, documenting the IRGC’s role in financing, training, arming, and directing extremists in Iraq responsible for the murder of hundreds of American and Iraqi soldiers and civilians.

Of course, that’s not the full extent of the IRGC’s malign influence. The group is an acknowledged supporter of terror (a fact even Senator Obama concedes), training, financing and arming Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and most recently, the Taliban. At home in Iran, the IRGC now dominates the regime, with 9 out of 21 seats in the Ahmadinejad cabinet held by former IRGC and IRGC-affiliated officials. The IRGC is also a vital player in Iran’s licit and illicit economies, and dominates important sectors like construction.

Needless to say, the Kyl-Lieberman amendment won broad support in the Senate, passing 76-22. Senator Hillary Clinton voted for it, as did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Senator Dick Durbin.

Senator Obama, however, was one of a handful of senators who opposed the amendment–which had aroused the ire of the left-wing blogosphere. In the frenzied minds of DailyKos and Moveon.org, Kyl-Lieberman–or “Lieberman-Kyl,” as they preferred to call it–was nothing less than a stealth declaration of war on Iran.

The offending clause (a non-binding Sense of the Senate) suggests that the U.S. military presence in Iraq “will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf.” It emphatically does not suggest either that we “use our military presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran,” as Senator Obama’s website falsely claims, or that “we should maintain our forces in Iraq with an eye toward blunting Iranian influence,” as Senator Obama frets.

That reading of the amendment is incomprehensible to most, including Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois and one of Obama’s chief supporters. “It’s rare that Barack and I disagree on an issue of this magnitude,” Durbin told Bloomberg Television at the time. “I have the same concerns that Barack Obama does about this administration and what they might do with the power that they have. But I don’t think this resolution gives them a green light to do anything.”

This misreading of the amendment speaks to a larger, deliberate obtuseness on Obama’s part. The Iranians are the largest sponsor of international terrorism in the world, and the evidence of this is both public and large. In order to fight terrorism, we need to at least honestly acknowledge Iran’s role in it and take steps to limit it. Kyl-Lieberman attempted to do just that in a non-violent manner, working through other options intended to limit their ability to fund terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

There are only two reasons to oppose the application of sanctions on Iran. Either one wants to go to war and skip all of the other options, or doesn’t believe Iran to be a threat and a sponsor of terror. Into which group should we put Barack Obama?

I think we can safely say that he belongs in the latter group. During the campaign, Obama attacked Hillary repeatedly for her vote on Kyl-Lieberman, and he undoubtedly will do the same with McCain. He famously intoned that Iran wasn’t a threat in Oregon, a position he abandoned 24 hours later when this YouTube hit the blogosphere:

The people at AIPAC suffer no such delusions. Iran uses its proxies to fight a continuous war against Israel and Western interests in the region. Asymmetrical threats don’t rely on size or even a lot of cash, but on infiltration and terrorism. Obama’s refusal to hold Iran accountable even in a non-violent manner doesn’t bode well for his stewardship of foreign policy in an age of terrorism, and AIPAC knows that.Watch Obama attempt to pivot today in his speech. Suddenly he will talk about the “grave threat” emanating from Tehran and attempt to convince his audience that he is tough enough to face down the mullahs. Obama couldn’t even face down MoveOn when it came time to apply tough sanctions against the terrorist-management structure in Iran.