Depends on the Definition of “Gains”

A few days ago, the New York Times was trumpeting President Obama’s “gains” at the UN concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

With a beaming Mr. Obama standing next to him, Mr. Medvedev signaled for the first time that Russia would be amenable to longstanding American requests to toughen sanctions against Iran significantly if, as expected, nuclear talks scheduled for next month failed to make progress.

Well.  That was then, this is now:

China will not support increased sanctions on Iran as a way to curb its nuclear program, a government spokeswoman said Thursday. Although China has generally opposed the use of sanctions, the announcement is sure to complicate President Obama’s efforts to impose tougher penalties on Iran, should international talks over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, scheduled for Oct. 1, fail to make headway.

Even if China had supported sanctions – and Obama may yet find concessions to bring them on board – there’s no particular reason to think Russia would abide by them.  It’s also perfectly reasonable to believe that Russia consulted with China prior to making its own announcement.  And the batting average of sanctions in getting countries to abandon nuclear programs is roughly .000, with Israel’s strike on Osirak (Iraq) and our invasion of Iraq (Libya), along with the Allied occupation of Berlin (Germany) being the only successes in that field I can recall.

As Powerline points out, some are arguing that it was the public revelation of Iran’s facility that moved Russia to reluctantly support sanctions, and if so, the President might have thought to present that information to them before handing them the diplomatic gift over missile defense.

So, according to the Times, “gains” means giving up tangible defenses obtained at a serious diplomatic price, abandoning allies who came through for us on those defenses, achieving the vague promise of weak sanctions at some point in the future, contingent on a lack of “progress” at talks that do nothing but give credibility to a monstrous regime that seeks to run out a clock we keep trying to reset.

Some gains.

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