Streetwise Professor

March 9, 2015

Obama Channels Woodrow Wilson in His League of Nations Phase

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:09 pm

I have compared Obama to a previous progressive president enamored of executive power and impatient with checks and balances: namely, Woodrow Wilson. Obama is now moving into the League of Nations phase of Wilson’s presidency, intent on ramming through a foreign policy deal in defiance of intense Senate opposition.

Actually, this comparison is unfair. To Wilson. At least he submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification. It failed because he refused to compromise on Article X. Obama in contrast, refuses to involve Congress in any way, least of all by submitting any agreement for ratification. He scorns the very idea.

Today Obama stooped to a new low. In response to a letter from 47 Republican senators warning him that without ratification, Obama’s deal with the mullahs would not bind a future president or Congress, Obama responded by questioning their loyalty: “It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran.”

Really. The hardliners oppose a deal because it might put a speed bump in the way of their race to develop an atomic weapon and the means to deliver it. The Republicans oppose the deal because they believe that the deal would not go nearly far enough to prevent, or even seriously delay Iran’s building of the bomb.

See the difference? I knew you could. That people with radically opposed objectives both attack a proposed agreement doesn’t mean it is just right. Indeed, the hardliners’ opposition validates the Republicans’ fear that the mullahs are hell-bent on getting the bomb as soon as possible.

Obama would be wise to heed the lesson of Wilson, whose obstinacy and refusal to compromise prevented him from achieving his the legacy-building agreement he craves so intensely. But we know that is not in his nature. It is not in the prog nature.

On the subject of Iran, I’ve been pondering the last couple of days what Putin wants to see here. My sense is that he would actually prefer that Obama fail. Another nuclear power on Russia’s borders cannot be a comforting thought. What’s more, Russia has long harbored imperial ambitions in Iran: the more insane nationalist elements in Russian (e.g., Zhirinovsky) are quite open in their ambitions to move south into Iran. A nuclear Iran would make those ambitions even less realistic than they already are.

But the main factor, at least in the short to medium term, is oil and gas. A deal that would expedite the elimination of sanctions that have limited Iran’s oil sales, and which have kept its gas almost completely out of reach, would be adverse to Russia’s economic interests. A substantial increase in Iranian oil output would put considerable downward pressrun prices. The elimination of sanctions would open Iran’s vast gas reserves. In not too long, this gas could flow to Europe, where it would compete with Gazprom’s.

It’s hard to see an upside to Russia in a deal. Meaning that Putin will be trying to find a way to scupper it. Which will give Obama an opportunity to accuse the Republicans of being in league with Putin as well as the mullahs.


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  1. strange, very strange for Obummer to get his panties all in a wad about the Republican letter

    This is the same “president” who ignores Congress and acts like a king:

    “I want that on my desk tomorrow”

    “If Congress doesn’t do what I want, I have a pen”

    Obummer acts like an imperial god, rather than like the guy who made all sorts of promises about bringing people together

    Checks and balances? Obummer don’t need no checks and balances – Obummer got millions of immigrants

    I was under the impression that on basis of US foreign policy is and was to keep “crazies” from getting nukes

    As it turns out, Obummer tried to pull a “reset” with the crazies in the Kremlin

    And now is trying to give nukes to the crazies in Iran

    If the mullahs in Iran spend their time with their ass in the air kissing prayer rugs 5 times a day for Allah, why the hell do they need nukes?

    For an imperial god like Obummer, that makes sense somehow

    For the rest of us, it makes no sense whatsoever

    Comment by elmer — March 10, 2015 @ 7:24 am

  2. At this point, trying to analyze what Putin is doing from the perspective of what’s best of Russia is a questionable approach. You have to ask what’s best for Putin personally.

    Comment by aaa — March 10, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  3. @aaa-That’s true. I think I was making that point: “On the subject of Iran, I’ve been pondering the last couple of days what Putin wants to see here. My sense is that he would actually prefer that Obama fail.” Clearly seeing how Putin analyzes this. His economic interests and imperial ambitions both lead him to desire the maintenance of the status quo.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 10, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

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