Sunday Headlines

Obama’s mistaken outreach to Iran
Last week news broke that President Obama wrote another secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seeking his assistance  in fighting the militant group Islamic State and in reaching a nuclear agreement. In the Weekly Standard, Lee Smith argues the letter demonstrates that the administration places greater value on preventing Israel from striking Iran, than Iran gaining nuclear weapons.

“Obama has insisted for five years that his policy is to prevent a nuclear Iran from emerging. In reality, his policy all along was to deter Israel from striking Iranian nuclear facilities. The way Obama sees it, an Iranian bomb may not be desirable, but it’s clearly preferable to an Israeli attack. Not only would an Israeli strike unleash a wave of Iranian terror throughout the region—and perhaps across Europe and the United States as well—it would also alienate what the White House sees as a potential partner,” Smith asserts.

Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution believes Obama made a mistake in reaching out to Iran’s supreme leader and that it shows a profound misunderstanding of the Iranian leadership.

“However, it is precisely at the tactical level that an Obama letter to Khamenei at this juncture appears so spectacularly ill-conceived. First of all, it poses no realistic possibility of advancing progress in the nuclear talks or any other aspect of U.S.-Iranian relations. After all, only the most naïve and uninformed observer of Iran would believe that a personal appeal from Obama would sway the Supreme Leader in a positive fashion,” says Maloney.

Obama’s Leadership Diminished By Midterm Elections
The Washington Post‘s Griff Witte and Anna Fifield contend the midterm election results resonate globally, with fears of a deepening leadership void:”[F]rom London to Tokyo, observers said the bruising defeats suffered by Obama’s Democratic allies will probably leave him with less clout to navigate global troubles — and could add to a leadership void that Republicans seized on to help gain advantage with voters,” they write.

Obama will take his weakened status on the road for ten days as he sets off for Asia, but The National Journal reports that those in Asia believe they now have the upper hand in negotiations.

“Word of his party’s losses and his weakened grip on power has made it to all the corners of the globe he will hit, from Beijing to Rangoon, Myanmar, to Brisbane, Australia. The Global Times, run by the Communist Party in China, gleefully stated that ‘a weak Obama must cooperate with China even more.” China’s state-run media quickly labeled Obama ‘a lame duck,'” notes Condon, who adds that his agenda is full in dealings with China.

During meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Obama will be seeking deals on issues ranging from the Hong Kong democracy protests to trade negotiations, Chinese cyberattacks on U.S. companies and the Pentagon, human rights, China’s dispute with Japan over a chain of islands in the East China Sea, and China’s fights with several other countries over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea.

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