A powerful lunch 0

Here’s Hillary Clinton’s cunning plan for saving the world from a nuclear-armed Iran:

First, convince the Saudis that the Revolutionary Guards are effectively taking over the government of Iran and so turning the country into a military dictatorship.

Next, persuade the duly frightened Saudis, who’ll want urgently to stop this development, to threaten China over oil supplies.

Then, a thoroughly cowed China will agree to support sanctions against Iran.

Finally, sanctions supported by China will stop Iran becoming a nuclear-armed power.

Yeah, sure, that will do it. No ordinary diplomacy this; this is smart power.

Yet the Saudis, it seems, are not keen to play their part in the brilliant scheme.

The Washington Post reports:

Iran is increasingly acquiring the attributes of a “military dictatorship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted repeatedly Monday, pointing to how the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has grabbed ever-larger chunks of the country’s economic, military and political life.

Clinton’s statements … were clearly a calculated effort to stir the waters in the administration’s stalled effort to win support for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Clinton appeared to be trying both to sound the alarm within Iran about the Guard’s increased influence — perhaps hoping to drive a wedge between the Guard and the rest of the political elite — and to sow doubts about the nature of Iran in nations that are wary of additional sanctions, such as China and Brazil. …

U.S. officials have said they plan to target the sanctions at the Guard, which is heavily involved in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs, because such tactics would damage the nation’s power structure while in theory not affecting many ordinary Iranians. Clinton suggested that the sanctions being contemplated are also designed to thwart the growth of the Guard’s role in Iran’s internal political dynamics.

“That is how we see it,” Clinton [said]. “We see that the government of Iran, the Supreme leader, the president, the parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship.” …

Although the Obama administration has repeatedly said it does not seek to meddle in Iranian politics, Clinton suggested that Iran’s elected leaders — long at odds with the United States — needed to take action. She said the current political climate is “a far cry from the Islamic republic that had elections and different points of view within the leadership circle.”

At a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, she said she hoped “that this is not a permanent change but that the religious and political leaders of Iran act to take back the authority which they should be exercising on behalf of the people.”

Similarly, she told reporters that “the civilian leadership is either preoccupied with its internal political situation or is ceding ground to the Revolutionary Guard” as it tries to contend with opposition protests. She said that whether the country changes course “depends on whether the clerical and political leadership begin to reassert themselves.”

And if they did, everything would be different? They’d give up the nuclear program? Stop threatening the destruction of Israel? Become firm allies of the United States? They’ve given clear evidence, have they, that this is how they’re thinking, these clerical and political leaders, the mullahs and Ahmadinejad? They’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy authorities exercising power ‘on behalf of the people’?

Anyway, King Abdullah gave Hillary a jolly good lunch.

Clinton spent 5 1/2 hours at Abdullah’s desert compound, about 60 miles northeast of the capital, Riyadh. After an opulent lunch, they spoke for nearly four hours on a range of issues, including Afghanistan, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Iran dominated the discussion.

A key roadblock to robust sanctions is China, which has deep economic and energy ties to Iran. The Obama administration has pressed Saudi Arabia, China’s top oil supplier, to put pressure on Beijing. Iran is China’s No. 3 supplier of oil.

After the talks, Saud [al-Faisal] appeared lukewarm about the effectiveness of sanctions. “They may work” in the long term, but the Saudis are anxious in the short term because they “are closer to threat,” he said…. [H]e was sure that China took its role as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council “very seriously” and that “they need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do.”

So perhaps the plan won’t work after all.

To sum up, Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration are achieving nothing, getting nowhere with Iran.

In fact, so feeble are the efforts they’re making, observers might wonder if Obama really wants to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power.