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If He Believes It, It Must Be So

Obama's scary interview.

11:35 AM, Mar 3, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
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GOLDBERG: So just to be clear: You don’t believe the Iranian leadership now thinks that your “all options are on the table” threat as it relates to their nuclear program -- you don’t think that they have stopped taking that seriously?

OBAMA: I know they take it seriously.

GOLDBERG: How do you know they take it seriously?

OBAMA: We have a high degree of confidence that when they look at 35,000 U.S. military personnel in the region that are engaged in constant training exercises under the direction of a president who already has shown himself willing to take military action in the past, that they should take my statements seriously. And the American people should as well, and the Israelis should as well, and the Saudis should as well….

GOLDBERG: So why are the Sunnis so nervous about you?

OBAMA: Well, I don’t think this is personal. I think that there are shifts that are taking place in the region that have caught a lot of them off guard. I think change is always scary. 

It’s pretty obvious to all analysts that Iran does not fear an American military strike much these days, especially after Mr. Obama’s failure to act in Syria last summer. But Obama denies it, referring to himself in the third person as someone “who has shown himself willing to take military action.” Drones, sure; a quick raid as well. But in Libya and Syria, he showed himself extremely reluctant to take military action. Remember “leading from behind?” If he genuinely thinks he is viewed as a scary guy with his finger near the trigger, we all have a problem.

Goldberg pushes him, asking why (as is obvious) no one in the Gulf believes Obama. “I don’t think it is personal,” says the president; the problem is them, not him, and his analysis is therapeutic: change is always scary, and they are having trouble catching up with it.  But talk with Gulf Arabs and one finds quickly that it is in fact quite personal: they don’t trust Mr. Obama. They believe his handling of Iran and Syria and for that matter of Russia have made the world a more dangerous place.

Change is apparently not scary to Mr. Obama, who is confident all his policies are right. Those who disagree are uninformed, or itching for conflict, or ignorant about the risks they will soon face, or sadly unable to adapt to world events. This is the Obama who said of his own nomination that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” If he believes it, it must be so. The Goldberg interview reveals that five years in, nothing has changed. 

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