EDITORIAL: Trade Winds Blowing


Notwithstanding the ignominy of the June, 1964 trade that sent him to the Chicago Cubs for Hall of Famer-to-be Lou Brock, Ernie Broglio had been a fine pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. His almost immediate decline after the deal, alone with Brock’s ascendancy to the top of the baseball world, unfortunately cast Broglio in an eternal dark cloud.

Such are the vagaries of trades. One never knows what they will bring; a general manager can only assess whether the transaction makes sense at the time it’s made, the rest being left to posterity.

A trade of sorts has occurred in the world of Middle East politics, and it is one that looks like a steal. If President Barack Obama pulls it off, he should be acknowledged for an accomplishment that none before him have matched.

The trade looks like this: Brazil and Turkey for Russia and China.

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Many have chastised the president for delay tantamount to failure in Middle East politics, particularly in coping with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Despite his being in office for only 17 months, critics both here and in Israel have alleged that Obama has sacrificed Israel up to the Arab world and has been milquetoast in his failure to face down the mullahs.

Yet a transformation has occurred in world alignment that undermines that way of thinking. For the first time, the U.S. has managed to move substantially closer to bringing both Russia and China on board in supporting sanctions against Iran unless it acquiesces to international pressure to cease its high-grade uranium enrichment.

This stance of unified superpowers has left Iran nervous, even to the point of loudly bashing Russia on the world stage last week. It has offered up another in an endless series of last-minute concessions that would involve exchanging uranium with Brazil and Turkey, which would supposedly result in Iran receiving back lower-grade radioactive material. This gambit has been rightfully condemned by the United States and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as too little too late.

So now we sit on the doorstep of history, with Russia and China closer to our corner on the Iran issue than ever before, and Brazil and Turkey risking their good standing with the U.S. and others by offering to play a part in perpetuating the stall tactics of the rogue Iranian state.

Quite frankly, we’ll take that trade any day of the week.

Those who don’t acknowledge this sea change have conveniently short memories. Russia and China in the past have been reluctant, if not downright resistant, to join in the cry for sanctions upon Iran. In fact, China has in the past been an outright supporter of Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

From our vantage point, the internationalism that Obama and Clinton have practiced seems to be coming home to roost. Nations do not perceive us to be nearly as imperious or condescending as we previously appeared. Whether you see the change as one for the better or worse, it is difficult to deny that it has opened some doors for support that were heretofore either closed or at best ajar.

As most polls would indicate, Israelis by and large don’t buy it. They see Obama as weak on Iran and as kowtowing to the Arab nations, and perceive this path as a selling out of their own country.

We don’t agree. Until this week’s Gaza Flotilla episode at least, in a short period of time, Obama and his team, including negotiator par excellence George Mitchell, had put us on the doorstep of direct Israeli-Palestinian relations, and there was at least a hint from the Palestinian Authority of a potentially meaningful land swap in furtherance of a lasting solution. By playing up to the PA and by further isolating Iran, U.S. diplomats have engaged in the arduous but necessary effort to disembowel Hamas, Hizbullah and other terrorist and anti-Israel regimes. Whether this stands upon the heels of the Flotilla incident remains to be seen.

Those who bash Obama on Iran and Israel have offered up very little useful that deviates from the status quo. Our support of Israel is unshakeable, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept more of the same as the only possible outcome. If we do, we may as well say goodbye to peace prospects altogether.

So we like this trade, and see it as a fine move in the right direction. And remember, the Cards were in the World Series three times in the ‘60s, winning two.

And the Cubs? Hmmm. Last we checked…