If Barack Obama hoped to woo the radical Islamist mullahs ruling Iran with a “clenched” iron fist, Supreme Leader Ali Khameini just gave Obama a diplomatic slap in the face. Khameini rejected Obama’s “open hand,” calling talks with the US a “perverted” notion, and warned Iranians not to be deceived by smooth-talking Americans:
Iran’s supreme leader, spurning what he described as several personal overtures from President Obama, warned Tuesday that negotiating with the United States would be “naive and perverted” and that Iranian politicians should not be “deceived” into starting such talks.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 70, said Obama has approached him several times through oral and written messages. It was the second time that Khamenei, who wields ultimate political and religious authority in Iran, has referred to the president’s outreach. …
Khamenei said he had responded in March to Obama’s overtures, referring to a speech in which he said he would wait for changes in U.S. policy toward Iran before reassessing ties.
Since then, Khamenei said, “what we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, ‘Let’s negotiate.’ But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that. … Whenever they smile at the officials of the Islamic revolution, when we carefully look at the situation, we notice that they are hiding a dagger behind their back,” he said. “They have not changed their intentions.”
Neither have the Iranians. Despite playing with the West over control of enriched uranium, they have shown no intention of dialing back their nuclear plans. While Europe fumes, the US has hesitated for months in dealing with the situation, apparently convinced that their status as the Non-Bush would open doors that got slammed in Bill Clinton’s face more than ten years ago.
All of this shows a remarkable naivete in the Obama administration — and a big missed opportunity. For the last several months, Europe has had a willingness to get tough with Iran that could have been used to push Russia into some concessions. Instead, Obama gave up his biggest marker without anything in return by reversing the US position on land-based missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia then rewarded Obama by rejecting any effort to tighten sanctions on Iran.
The open hand has been the empty hand, and the Iranians know it. They have taken their measure of this administration, and see nothing in it to deflect themselves from their race to get a nuclear weapon. As Jim Hoft notes, the Iranian people wonder whether Obama is serious about democracy and freedom, too:
The brave Iranian democrats are marching again today against the brutal killer regime on the 30 Year Anniversary of the siege on the US Embassy in Tehran. The Iranians are protesting in Tehran, Tabriz … The protesters called out to the Americans:
“Obama, Obama, Are you with the regime or with us?”