The bizarre U.N. rant alleging a 9/11 conspiracy by Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, delivered from the same podium where President Obama had just hours before extended yet another of olive branch of diplomacy toward the rogue Persian regime, marks the most devastating setback yet in the administration's campaign of global engagement, foreign-policy experts say.
A host of nations joined America in walking out on Ahmadinejad's tirade -- including the 27 European Union states, Australia, Costa Rica, and New Zealand.
But the overwhelming majority of the diplomats representing the worlds 192 nations not only kept their seats, but applauded vigorously when Ahmadinejad finally stopped talking.
"They are literally at their wits' end. They have no idea what to do," Dr. James Jay Carafano, the Heritage Foundation national security expert, tells Newsmax of the administration. "They don't want to take the Iranians on. They don't want to appear soft on Iran. They don't want to say that having an Iranian nuclear program is acceptable, but they're unwilling to do any of the things to demonstrate that the United States truly would hold it as unacceptable."
Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations including former Ambassador John R. Bolton, tells Newsmax that Thursday's incident is another setback for an Obama strategy he says has "failed miserably on a variety of fronts in the Middle East."
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Grenell says he concurs with other pundits who say it now appears the Obama administration has given up stopping the determined Iranian march toward attaining nuclear weapons.
"I think the Obama administration has calculated that it's too tough to get the Iranians to give up their weapons, and so they are making plans to deal with an Iranian regime with nuclear capability," Grenell said. "I think that it's a very scary possibility, but it looks like the Obama administration has calculated that it's inevitable."
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Ahmadinejad's U.N. remarks were widely interpreted as a repudiation of President Obama's diplomatic outreach. "In their actions to date," Obama told the U.N. delegations, "the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope.
"We respect their rights as members of the community of nations. I've said before and I will repeat, I am committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations."
Ahmadinejad's response was to launch a broadside against American capitalism and to state "The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree… some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the [9/11] attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime."
Ahmadinejad also called for the establishment of a fact-finding group "to ensure that the different views about [9/11] are not banned from discussion in the future."
Saul Weisleder, the representative of the Costa Rican mission who walked on Ahmadinejad's speech, told CNSNews: "This only reaffirms [Ahmadinejad's] negative contribution to world peace and practical rejection of President Barack Obama's extension of a serious proposal for constructive engagement with Iran in order to build peace…."
The administration's critics saw Ahmadinejad's broadside as a clear repudiation of a U.S. diplomatic strategy increasingly known as "the Obama doctrine." It involves downplaying U.S. strength and exceptionalism, while promising not to act independently against despots without the approval of world governing bodies.
President Obama himself described his doctrine in Thursday's U.N. speech.
"This cannot solely be America's endeavor," he said. "Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone. We have sought -- in word and deed -- a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."
The notion of shared responsibility has generally been met with diplomatic indifference, experts say, or by outright hostility in the case of Iran's volatile, leisure-suit wearing theocrat.
As Hudson Institute senior fellow Anne Bayefsky remarked Friday on National Review Online: "Ahmadinejad has heard this plea from the Obama administration so many times before that he has clearly stopped counting. Ahmadinejad understands perfectly well that confronting Iran is out of sync with the 'new era of engagement' that is the trademark of Obama’s foreign policy.
“'Engagement' looks like this," she wrote. "The president of the United States keeps talking about 'extended hands' and 'open doors,' and the president of Iran keeps building nuclear weapons."
In his speech Obama appeared to soft pedal the Iran situation Thursday. Rather than highlight Iran's plans to develop nuclear weapons, Obama merely said that Iran had not yet demonstrated its peaceful intent, adding the regime must "confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program."
Comments Carafano: "Everything in the doctrine … is predicated on people who the U.S. is antagonistic with doing things that are nice, cooperating. The corrupt Afghans have to cooperate, the Pakistanis have to cooperate, the Iranians have to cooperate. And the enemy gets a vote. And what we're seeing is, people are demonstrating they don't want to cooperate."
According to Grenell, the administration's apparent inability to stop Iran's nuclear program stems in part from its reluctance to use American might.
"Military action is always the last resort," Grenell tells Newsmax.
"But it actually has to be on the table. I think the Bush administration actually was able to move the U.N. in a direction that sometimes it didn't want to go, simply because they were nervous about a military action. I think that threat is a very powerful threat, and what's happened with the Obama administration is they've removed it.
"They basically want to 'hug everything out.' And at the end of the day, you have to have a credible threat."
Grenell also said that the president blundered in reaching out to Palestinians without at least meeting with the Israeli delegation.
"The Obama administration did not meet with the Israelis on this trip," Grenell says. "I think it's a dangerous precedent when you go to the U.N. and you don't have a bilateral, sit-down, formal meeting with the Israelis. As the American president, it sends a terrible message to the U.N. when you snub the Israelis like this."
Ironically, the president's doctrine of engagement doesn't appear to be playing so well in the Middle East either.
Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world initially did improve the approval rating of the United States. But according to The Pew Global Attitudes survey, U.S. favorability in the Middle East has dropped significantly since then.
The U.S. approval rating has fallen from 27 percent to 17 percent in Egypt, from 25 to 21 percent in Jordan, and from 55 percent to 52 percent in Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad's U.N. speech was met with over 800 protesters demonstrating against Iran's theocratic strongmen.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani took up their cause, declaring to the crowd: "If the U.N. wants to reclaim its lofty goal of protecting human rights, then it must stand with you against the brutal regime in Iran."
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