Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama's JFK Test

The newest revelation of Iran's nuclear sneakiness echoes what the world faced in 1962 when the Soviets furtively put missiles into Cuba, but John F. Kennedy's problem was a faceoff for a few days compared to the complex struggle that will play out over the coming months.

Yet the key issue is the same--testing an American president's skill and resolve by an adversary who may be interpreting a rational and measured approach as weakness.

Back then, JFK faced an imminent threat to the American mainland that demanded immediate response. Obama's challenge has a less concentrated time frame, but in what is being described as "the Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion," he will have to rally support for what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls "a line in the sand" to stop Iranian nuclear nose-thumbing at the world, getting them to "pursue a new course or face consequences."

The first signs are promising. In putting Tehran "on notice" yesterday, the President invoked the carrot-and-stick formula that JFK used and, just as Kennedy ignored military advice to "bomb Cuba back into the Stone Age," Obama rejected the notion of "victory" in today's crisis.

"This isn't a football game," he said. "So I'm not interested in victory, I'm interested in solving the problem."

The President's words suggest he understands the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis. When it was over, Robert Kennedy wrote in his memoir, his brother "permitted no crowing" and ordered that "no interview should be given, no statement made, which would claim any kind of victory."

As Obama tries to rally support from such unlikely allies as Russia and China in devising ways to pressure Iran, he will do well to recall Robert Kennedy's prediction that "we could have other missile crises in the future--different kinds, no doubt, and under different circumstances. But if we are going to be successful then, if we are going to preserve our own national security, we will need friends, we will need supporters, we will need countries that believe and respect us and will follow our leadership."

Almost half a century later, nothing has changed.

5 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Ahem. BO is NO Jack Kennedy.

For God's sake FRANCE was tougher on Iran than BO was. It's shameful and embarrassing. What's France going to do? Beat them with a baguette? Wait for us to come and save them. Again. Oh, wait, we don't do that anymore. My bad.

jf said...

FS:
France contributed 18,000 troops to Operation Desert Storm, second highest number from a European nation. Nine French soldiers were killed.

Tell their families about the baguettes.

Holte Ender said...

Fuzzy Slippers is no Robert Stein.

Must be still eating "Freedom Fries" just a reminder, French people died by the tens of thousands from 1940 to 1945, their politicians may have surrendered , but they didn't. A very courageous people. Fox News doesn't say that, so you wouldn't know.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Gosh, no, I don't hold a candle to Mr. Stein and adore his writing. That's why I read his blog.

I just think that it's rather sad that BO is tearing down our nation, that his idea of "transformation" is to make us into something that we've never wanted to be. I do understand that libs are chomping at the bit to ignore all historical evidence that diplomacy alone cannot work, that we need more than sanctions and "strong words" to help maintain peace around the world, including keeping ourselves and our allies out of wars. And the fact that France is now talking stronger than us is an embarrassment of epic proportions.

Do you not see that as at all problematic? And do you not see any contradiction in bashing Bush for not doing more (like what?) in Darfur, while we watch the Honduran, Venezuelan, and Iranian people subjugated, beaten, killed, and otherwise silenced by horrible tyrants and dictators? Do you not cringe when you hear these usurpers claim BO as their "brother" and wishing he'd be president forever? Does this not suggest to you that they see, finally, an American president that will allow them to do whatever they want in this world, including developing and using nuclear weapons? To ask the same question recently asked by Netanyahu: have YOU no shame?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Holte, I've been reading around the blogosphere and have developed only a higher regard for France and a lower regard for BO. The French president is very eloquent in his stand that BO is an idealistic dreamer who does not live in the real world of the present that the rest of us live in.

Oh, but you may have been sheltered from this by your fringe media. So here's a handy link to Sarkozy's statements about BO and his wimpy, head in the clouds stance on Iran:

http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article1432

So now what? Sarkozy's a racist? Is brain-washed by Fox news?