Testing Plays From Tel Aviv and Tehran are Testing Obama…and Tempting Romney

September 26, 2012


The political complexities of the Middle East could fill many volumes in a Playmaker’s analysis.  From Tel Aviv to Tehran, influence strategy is thick as mud.  What’s that got to do with the Plays for the Presidency?  Maybe everything as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for preemptive strikes on Iranian centrifuges threaten Barack Obama’s strongest suit in foreign policy.

It is a drama that Mitt Romney is poised to exploit.  Right now, the GOP nominee is largely Pausing, both because the matter may be unraveling to his advantage and because he cannot afford to be perceived as a meddler.  He’s learned his lessons from his premature critiques of Olympic security and the recent chaos and killings in Libya.

For President Obama’s part, his play of choice — at least this week — is to employ the statesmanlike pressing play, the Challenge.  (And, yes, he did prefer a daytime TV Peacock on The View over meetings with world leaders).  Tuesday at the United Nations, Obama exhorted dignitaries, “It’s time to marginalize those who — even when not resorting to violence — use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as the central principle of politics.”  The Challenge is strategy-safe where politics is strategy-rich.  It’s a good way for leaders to act like — and to be seen as — leaders.  Yet without having to actually do anything.

Obama’s approach contrasts with the fomenting plays of his ally, Israel.  Netanyahu is straining to move past his many suggestive Pings and Trial  Balloons, all but screaming with flat-out Fiats that the time to terminate Iran’s nuclear ambition is now.

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is all but screaming too.  Today, on the high Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Iran’s bafflingly elliptical chief executive will address the U.N. General Assembly and all but confirm his many inferences that Israel must go.  He won’t bang his shoe, Nikita Kruschev-style, and tell Israel, We will bury you.  But he may continue his own testing plays — Trial Balloons and Pings — to signal his intention.  Look for a rendition to this recent statement:  “We do believe that they (Israel) have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape a dead end.  Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs.  We don’t even count them as any part of any equation for Iran.  During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated.”

Eliminated.  It’s a Ping, like Fed Chairman’s famous hip check on a bull market, “Irrational exuberance.”  But it will be taken as a Fiat, more like the late Soviet leader’s shoe.

DID YOU KNOW that fact checkers rely almost exclusively on one play in The Standard Table of Influence?  It’s the Mirror.  A freezing play that clinically reflects reason by introducing contradictory facts and information into a marketplace.

Post by Alan Kelly

Photo credit:  MittRomneyCentral.com