Naively thinking that Pyongyang and Tehran could be sweet-talked out of their nuclear programs was one of President Obama’s earliest foreign policy blunders. Despite initial giddy expectations that the Obama Administration would achieve a breakthrough in the six-party talks, Pyongyang quickly sent clear signals that it would not adopt a more accommodating stance. But in response to its series of rapid-fire provocations in 2009, the Obama Administration realized that that approach was a failure and reversed its policy 180 degrees to adopt a two-track strategy of pressure and conditional negotiation.
Now we hear that North Korea has admitted to having thousands of uranium enriching centrifuges at their Yongbyon nuclear facility, validating Bush Administration assertions that it was pursuing a covert uranium-based nuclear weapons program.
And there are reports that, since 2005, Pyongyang has transferred 19 missiles to Tehran. These missiles are capable of reaching Western Europe and even Moscow—making Iran an even greater threat to peace and stability in the Middle East and around the world. Despite these developments, President Obama and his friends in the EU have called for yet another round of talks on Iran.
As national security expert Kim Holmes of The Heritage Foundation pointed out in recent remarks about the dangers of the Obama Doctrine, the President’s open-hand and seat-at-the-table approach has not resulted in much cooperation from either rogue regime. If anything, they have become even less cooperative than when Bush was President. This approach, Holmes argues, has produced no tangible diplomatic results and has even had the adverse effect of alienating our traditional allies.
Many countries are looking to the U.S. for stronger global leadership in containing Iranian and North Korean nuclear efforts. Isn’t it time the President listened?
Lee Lukoff is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm