The world waited with bated breath as the day approached: would President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly reflect positively on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” (as the Israelis derisively dub it)? Would the two meet upat a luncheon arranged by Ban Ki-Moon and – gasp! – actually shake hands?
We now know the answers to these two questions: no, and certainly not.
It’s funny how subjective impressions can be. People often hear their hopes rather than what is actually being said: here’s Phil Weiss, over at the militantly anti-Zionist MondoWeiss web site, who sees in Obama’s speech evidence of a "bold opening to Iran," all but proclaiming the beginning of a new era in US-Iranian relations. On the other hand, here’s Max Fisher over at the Washington Post with a much more sober – and, I would say, more accurate – assessment.
Rouhani never showed up at the luncheon, and therefore the handshake that was supposed to have shaken the world never happened. Maybe he’d had a big breakfast and just wasn’t that hungry – or maybe he lost his appetite after listening to Obama’s speech. I’m betting on the latter.
I’ll pass over the obvious lies – obvious, at least, to those who follow these issues closely – such as the one about how "all our troops have left Iraq” (not so), and this realknee-slapper:
"We have limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible and there’s a near certainty of no civilian casualties."
Oy. And here’s one that sticks out like a sore Snowden: according to Obama, we’re reviewing "the way that we gather intelligence so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share."
But never mind the lies, let’s look at where he’s being truthful. We’ll have to leave out the part where he claims the only concern that prompted him to call for a military strike on Syria was the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad – because we all know the US and its Saudi ally have been engaged in a regime change operation there for at least a yearif not more. But there was a glint of truth amid the smoke and mirrors when Obama said:
"It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack."
Notice the careful wording: "this attack." The Ghouta incident is separate from three others – one in the village of Khan al-Asal, outside Aleppo, where the regime (and their Russian backers) contend the rebels used some kind of poison gas to take the town. (The location of the other two incidents were kept under wraps "for security reasons.") This was the reason the Assad government let the UN inspectors in to begin with: Damascus was hoping the UN team would verify their accusations, when it just so happened that the Ghouta incident occurred not four miles from where the inspectors were staying.
Oh, but never mind: that was then, and this is now. Citing the agreement with Putin to iron out the terms of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Obama takes a hard line:
"Now there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments. And there must be consequences if they fail to do so. If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws."