Obama aide Axelrod fudges Dec. 31 deadline for Iran on nuclear weapons

Andrew Malcolm
The Los Angeles Times
December 20, 2009

During the presidential primary campaigns, then-freshman-Democrat Sen. Barack Obama let it be known in one debate that he wouldn’t mind unilaterally bombing the U.S. ally Pakistan if it wasn’t sufficiently cooperating in the fight against terrorists, especially in its wild northwestern tribal areas.There were widespread gasps.

The neophyte presidential campaigner, who had long opposed the war in Iraq, was trying to build his national-security/foreign-policy chops on the international scene.

During the general election campaign, however, Obama made much of his willingness to engage rogue regimes such as Iran with less threatening and more talking without preconditions, such as with its head, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The U.S. president, in fact, won a Nobel Peace Prize based significantly on the hope this change represented in the international community.

Critics said years of talking had produced no significant progress so more seemed unlikely to suddenly be different and that the wannabe U.S. president would be played by such governments talking and talking but stalling for time to build, say, a nuclear weapon.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Israel, whose annihilation Ahmadinejad has vowed to ensure despite the Israelis having their own nukes, is believed to be making its own defensive/offensive plans while giving Obama an unspecified time to produce results through words, not weapons…

…Obama has long proclaimed a Dec. 31 deadline for cooperation or retaliation of some unspecified kind. But Iran and, before it, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, has confidently counted on years of international dithering on enforcing printed sanctions.

So naturally on ABC’s “This Week” this week, George Stephanopoulos asked Obama adviser and ex-newspaper reporter David Axelrod about the approaching Obama deadline.

Axelrod started to say something about talking but checked himself and spoke instead of “consequences.”

But, as often occurs in diplomatic-speak — and politics-speak too, come to think of it — it’s what you don’t say that’s often more important than what you do utter.

Axelrod declined to reiterate the Dec. 31 date. Here’s the exchange. Draw your own conclusions…

The rest is at the LA Times.

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