Will Obama Trigger the 'Nuclear Option'?

This week it became clear that President Obama’s choices may end up triggering the “nuclear option.”

No, I don’t mean that the Empathy President’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter will result in Democrats changing the Senate rules (the “nuclear option”) to end a Republican filibuster.  

Instead, I’m talking about Obama’s foreign policy choices, which are prompting tyrants the world over to thumb their noses at our new president and in some cases to test their nuclear capabilities.  As the world tries to determine whether President Obama’s empathy extends to maniacal foreign tyrants, one thing is clear: it will take more than eloquent words to compel America’s enemies to behave.  

On Monday, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Why is it that the world’ most despotic regimes so often have the most democratic-sounding names?) defied international sanctions and conducted its second nuclear test, which preliminary seismic readings showed as much more potent than its first test in 2006.  

More than anything, North Korea’s misbehavior focuses attention on just how little leverage the United States has with China.  China is the one country that has any sway over North Korea, because it provides the North Koreans with most of their food, energy and protection.  In fact, without China’s help, the North Korean regime would topple.  Sadly, any influence the U.S. might have with the Chinese is diminishing as the Obama administration borrows more and more money from them to finance its socialist domestic agenda.   

 Though there is some concern that North Korea may use a nuclear weapon, the greater worry is its ongoing cooperation with Syria and Iran, whose foreign policy agenda includes the oft-repeated goal of “wip[ing] Israel off the map.”

To that end, Iran’s Hitler wannabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, test fired a missile capable of hitting Israel and American military facilities across the Middle East and southern Europe.

He also detonated a verbal bomb by rebuffing Barack Obama’s invitations to chat by announcing that he has no intention of negotiating with anyone about his nuclear weapons program.  

Instead Ahmadinejad said, “Our talks [with the major powers] will be only in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues, and nothing else.” And to demonstrate his intention to be a world power, he sent several Iranian warships into international waters.  

None of this is to say that Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear pursuits are all about Obama.  Indeed, both have domestic reasons for acting out, and both nations’ nuclear programs have been going on for decades.  Kim Jong Il, the North Korean psychotic known by his slaves as “Dear Leader,” suffered a stroke last year, and his successful development of a nuclear bomb is a way to reassert his rule, to prove to his people and the world that he is still in charge.  Ahmadinejad is trying to play up his resistance to world powers ahead of Iran’s June 12th presidential election.  But both countries’ actions were clearly undertaken with Obama partly in mind.  

But it is not only North Korea and Iran that are rebuffing President Obama’s pleas to play nice.  Consider Sudan, whose “president,” Omar al-Bashir, recently became the first sitting head of state to be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.  Bashir has said kind things about President Obama including that he “welcome[s] the positive signs sent by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Islamic world on more than one occasion.”  

Whatever those “positive signs” are, however, they clearly have not encouraged Bashir to stop savaging his own people. Last month, Bashir expelled 13 western aid agencies from Darfur, an act that placed millions of Darfuris at risk of disease and starvation.  Now there are signs that Bashir is preparing to renew war with Southern Sudan, where a fragile peace agreement is on the verge of collapse.

Then there’s Cuba, where Obama’s recent decision to ease the U.S. embargo against the Marxist regime has been met with derision.  This week, Fidel Castro ended any speculation that the U.S. and Cuba would soon be headed toward warmer relations.  Castro declared in an essay on the government’s website that any talk of freeing the roughly 250 political prisoners in Cuba’s gulag is a nonstarter.  Castro, who had previously expressed admiration for Obama, criticized the American president for showing signs of “superficiality.”  

 These past few days have made clear that Barack Obama’s charm and kindness offensive has accomplished little other than to validate a group of despotic leaders reassured in their belief that they can act with impunity.  All this comes at a bad time, just as the Obama administration’s budget proposals include a decrease in funding for our own missile defense programs.

On Memorial Day, President Obama paid homage to our military veterans, those who, in Obama’s words, “waged war so that we might know peace.” In what was described as a moving tribute, the president reassured Americans that there is “nothing I will not do to keep our country safe…”  

That’s good to hear.  But how long will it be before our president realizes that there is nothing our enemies will not do to keep our country in peril?