Saturday, March 03, 2012

Obama the Vulcan

An interesting article in the online Atlantic Monthly about the coming confrontation with Iran. An excerpt:

GOLDBERG: Go back to this language, 'All options on the table.' You've probably said it 50 or 100 times. And a lot of people believe it, but the two main intended audiences, the supreme leader of Iran and the prime minister of Israel, you could argue, don't entirely trust this. The impression we get is that the Israeli government thinks this is a vague expression that's been used for so many years. Is there some ramping-up of the rhetoric you're going to give them?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think the Israeli people understand it, I think the American people understand it, and I think the Iranians understand it. It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] is robust in evaluating Iran's military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that.

I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.
When we were talking about it at dinner last night, Chicago Ted reminded me (if I ever knew) of this dialog from Star Trek (The Doomsday Machine):
Capt. Kirk: Mr. Spock, relieve Commodore Decker immediately. That's a direct order.
Matt Decker: You can't relieve me and you know it, according to regulations...
Capt. Kirk: BLAST REGULATIONS! Mr. Spock, I order you to assume command on my personal authority as Captain of the Enterprise.
Mr. Spock: Commodore Decker, you are relieved of command.
Matt Decker: I don't recognize your authority to relieve me.
Mr. Spock: You may file a formal protest with Starfleet Command, assuming we survive to reach a Starbase, but you are relieved. Commodore, I do not wish to place you under arrest.
Matt Decker: You wouldn't dare.
[Mr. Spock signals two security guards who immediately step forward at his command]
Matt Decker: You're bluffing.
Mr. Spock: Vulcans never bluff.
Matt Decker: [sadly] No. No, I don't suppose that they do. Very well, Mr. Spock, the bridge is yours. 
Let's have another look at those ears.

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