In a similar vein, Michael Singh, writing for Foreign Policy, says:
"Sanctions are only partly to blame for Iran's economic travails. The regime's maladroit domestic response to the sanctions and its loose monetary and fiscal policies have made matters far worse. This is arguably the result of years of economic mismanagement in Iran, particularly under Ahmadinejad.
"However, the Iranian regime is relatively sheltered from the present crisis. Oil exports remain high at 1.2 to 1.5 million barrels per day, meaning that the regime's foreign exchange income is considerable. And in any event its oil income is dollar-denominated, protecting it from exchange rate risk. As a result, Iran's economic crisis is unlikely to directly cause the regime to change its nuclear calculus." (Emphasis added)
Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary, says:
"The latest clashes in Tehran must not be interpreted as a sign that the fall of the Iranian regime is imminent. It is an iron rule of history that tyrants fall only when they lose their will to shed blood...
"If Washington continues to soft pedal its Iran policy and places its hopes on domestic unrest producing a change in policy, the only result will be to perpetuate the current stalemate. Like Assad, the ayatollahs have no plans to give up power."
All of this is valuable in assessing Obama's position, and his claim to be making headway with regard to Iran.
But I want to look in some detail at one more article, "Team Obama and crunch time on Tehran," this by political commentator Michael Widlansky, in the JPost today:
In assessing the likelihood (which he considers scant indeed) that Obama will use force against Iran, Widlansky first looks at presidential precedents, and then considers "the team Obama has assembled to deal with issues of terror, use of force and Iran. They reflect Obama's views."
What Widlansky then shares touches on a great deal more than Obama's position on Iran and should be considered very carefully indeed by anyone who is thinking of voting for him. (All emphasis is added.)
"Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state, leads talks with the Iranians. Sherman has been as successful there as she was a decade ago heading Bill Clinton's efforts to stop Korea's atomic bombs. David Ignatius of the Washington Post has said her talks 'have produced little beyond an exchange of paper.' Sherman's background in social work and a stint running the Fannie Mae Foundation clearly impressed both Iran and the Koreans.
"Attorney General Eric Holder often seems like he wants to make America a safer place for terrorists.
"Whether it is trying to close down the Guantanamo base in Cuba and bringing terrorists to trial in downtown NY, or moving strongly to investigate CIA agents who interrogated terrorists, Holder often makes observers wonder whether he forgot on which side of the terror problem he was supposed to be working.
"When he was in the Clinton Justice Department, Holder toiled to get pardons for convicted Puerto Rican terrorists -- pardons opposed by the rest of the Justice Department. Holder often acts as if he were still serving as a partner at the far-left law firm of Covington-Burling, which does pro-bono work for terrorist inmates at Guantanamo.
Holder led Obama's efforts to give terrorists more legal redress than drug smugglers facing police in NY or Texas..."
Forget everything else for the moment. Stop here, and ask yourselves whether you would want the man who selected Holder as attorney general to be president for four more years.
Widlanski then mentions Tom Donilon, "national security adviser...a career political activist and lobbyist"...also with connections to Fannie Mae. "Obama has sent him a few times to tell the Israelis not to bomb Iran."
Continues Widlanski, "Valerie Jarrett, Obama's top adviser is the inner-voice of Obama. It is nice to know that as Obama wonders what to do or -- more likely, not to do about Iran -- he can call on someone who was born and has lived there. Jarrett has also served as Obama's emissary to the US Muslims, including wealthy donors from the Iranian community. Jarrett has strong views on national security, and she did not like General James Jones, the first Obama national security adviser, reportedly pushing him aside for Tom Donilon.
"On the day after Iran and Hezbollah engineered an attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, Jarrett hosted a gather of Iranian activists (some not US citizens) at the White House."
Concludes Widlanski: "...expecting [military help] from the Obama White House is outright fantasy.
"The Obama administration is floating stories that Iran has been so hard-hit by sanctions that its hungry population will rise up in anger and overthrow the bomb-making ayatolah. Don't bet on it.
"Tens of thousands of North Koreans actually died of famine, but North Korea still got its bomb and then used it as a bargaining chip to get the West to give them food aid."
Enough to mull over for one day, with more to follow soon.
Let's end on a light note. A rare tapir -- an endangered species -- has been born in the safari park at Ramat Gan (outside of Tel Aviv). The baby, a boy, will lose his stripes as he grows.