How Iran conned the trusting West into the great Geneva ‘giveaway’

AT around 5 a.m. a week last Saturday, when the various parties yawned their way through the obligatory photo-shoot after the night-long charade that passed as ‘nuclear peace talks’ in Geneva, who had the most to smile about?

It was a no-contest, because the jubilant grins, lit up like a torchlight procession of skiers descending a Swiss Alp, all belonged to the Iranians.

And the biggest winner wasn’t even there. The crafty, turbaned 74-year-old, Ali Khamenei, a religious fanatic who styles himself Supreme Leader, was sitting several thousand miles away in Tehran, no doubt stroking his beard, eyes agleam at how the UN-anointed delegation of pliant diplomats, the P5+1, could be so easily conned.

After a decade of deceit, deception and time-wasting, the world’s premier purveyor of terror had won the most decisive war of words with the West since Hitler convinced Neville Chamberlain back in 1938 his intentions towards Czechoslovakia were entirely honourable and pigs could fly.

So, following the shameful Munich Pact, say hello to the great Geneva ‘giveaway’. And, replacing the plucky Czechs, insert Israel, Saudi Arabia and most Sunni Muslim states, including Jordan and Egypt – in fact, all the West’s Middle East allies, who’ll be the first fall-guys in Obama’s gamble on appeasing a rogue state that doesn’t even bother to hide an ambition to extend its headbanging hegemony across the world’s powder keg.

No surprise, then, that the bunting also went up throughout the Islamic Republic’s vassal states: Iraq, where Shiite lackeys suppress Sunnis, Christians and Kurds; Syria, where Iranian arms and manpower underwrite the repellent Assad mafia; and Lebanon, indirectly ruled by Iran via its cutthroat proxies, Hezbollah.

NUCLEAR WINNER: Iran's Foreign Minister, Javid xxxxxx, has much to smile about after Iran again duped the P5+1

NUCLEAR WINNER: Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, has much to smile about after Iran again duped the UN-backed P5+1

Oh, and let’s not forget how it was hailed as a triumph by those woolly-minded bien pensants, the trusting Left-leaners, who’d give Beelzebub a free pass for inventing the Seven Deadly Sins. If they’re clapping, you know something’s gone badly pear-shaped.

So what precisely is the much-trumpeted deal that’ll prelude ‘peace in our time’ and had the Iranians believing they were floating on a Persian carpet to nuclear paradise, after a decade of biting sanctions?

From its narrow perspective, they insist it entitles them to continue developing dubious nuclear hardware it denied for years it ever had in defiance of six UN resolutions; au contraire, says the P5+1 – purblind America, a supine UK, the occasionally feisty French, scheming Russia and China, plus Germany – who claim they’ve rolled Iran back in exchange for easing financial manacles.

But, without digging deep into the nitty-gritty, here’s how one, independent US foreign policy analyst explained it, ‘Iran will get to pocket billions in [sanction] relief, use the funds to stabilize its economy, bolster its nuclear program and fund its global terror network.’

Indeed, that sentiment was echoed by Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, who said the deal – ‘cave-in’ is more apt – represented ‘a big success for Iran.’

Underlining victory, he told Iran’s parliament last week that work would even continue on the Arak heavy water, plutonium plant in direct contravention of the P5+1 agreement.

But was it ever going to be anything than thus?  Short answer: No.

Because President Obama’s skewered vision of Western foreign policy has tilted 180 degrees on its axis in favour of opponents, not proponents.

Admittedly, especially in the Cold War era, some ‘friends’ – Chinese nationalist warlord, Chiang Kai-shek, the Shah of Iran and, briefly, Saddam Hussein spring to mind – were not exactly paragons of democratic virtue.

However, this most naïve of US leaders’ belief that he can placate lunatic, Islamic extremists is the most deranged, fanciful gambit of modern times, because they represent a bloc that not only vilifies the West, but has the avowed intention of destroying it.

Simply put, there cannot be a happy accommodation with radical, repressive, expansionist theocrats, who want a new world order based on a 7th Century credo, which defines Western liberalism as decadent, inferior and ungodly.

So an interim deal that’s just a dab on the footbrake of Iran’s headlong rush to tool itself up with nuclear goodies is about as useful as putting a nappy on an elephant.

And the question that shrieks to be answered is: if tough sanctions were working, why shelve them just on the dodgy premise the maverick Iranians – who freely admit they’ve brazenly lied in the past – will keep to a deal they’re already unpicking at the seams?

Meanwhile, in leading the world down Appeasement Avenue, another facet of Obama’s flawed psyche has surfaced: he’s shown he’s not averse to a tad of skulduggery either.

It’s now emerged that his sidekicks held back-channel talks with the Iranians – and, apparently, Hezbollah – for 12 months to slick up the detail, while the perfidious president lied through his pearly teeth to erstwhile allies that all’s well and will end well. Only he neglected to say for whom.

REPEAT ROUTE: US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, failed to rein in the North Koreans and fails again with Iran

REPEAT DEFEAT: US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, failed to rein in the North Koreans and fails again with Iran

Students of diplomatic cock-ups will remember how President Bill Clinton once tried to stymie North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in 2001, only to end up being suckered.

Kim Jong Il, the Beloved Leader of the pariah state and, unsurprisingly, a playmate of Iran’s Supreme Leader – don’t these loony despots adore grandiose titles – promised not to produce, test or deploy missiles and halt the export of nuclear technology.

Clinton’s chief coordinator, Wendy Sherman, noted then that Kim ‘appears ready to make landmark commitments’.

Alas, appearances can be deceptive and, predictably, the North Koreans reneged on every promise they made.

Ironically, witless Wendy was tasked by the visionary Obama to reprise her stunning debacle, this time with the Iranians. So, small wonder they’re cock-a-hoop.

Meanwhile, the US President looks still more a busted flush, his credibility holed below the waterline over the humbling, bumbling Middle East shambles created under his watch, while his ratings at home plummet to near-record lows.

At a seminal moment in world history, clearly Obama and his appointees – especially Sherman – are ignorant of the wisdom of Spanish philosopher-poet, George Santayana.

Just for the record, a century ago he wrote, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

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You might be a genius, Prof, but you’re an idiot for falling for the boycott bigots

He’s been variously described as ‘the man who invented time’ and ‘Britain’s most brilliant physicist’, a genius whose academic intellect dwarfs we humble cabbages.

Professor Stephen Hawking’s celebrity has even transcended the dreamy spires of Oxbridge, because he’s risen to be an international icon, made all the more charismatic by crippling disability.

His body contorted by motor neurone disease, the 71-year-old sits in an ultra-high-tech wheelchair, oozing thoughts on the origins of the universe that are broadcast via a robotic voice, laden with a trans-Atlantic accent.

For long he espoused the view that scientific advances – and the exchange of vital information between those at its cutting edge – should be accessible to all, regardless of creed, colour or origin…in essence the noblest sentiments for the betterment of mankind.

Now, for quixotic reasons, Hawking has had a change of heart, perhaps allowing the festering prejudices of others to colour his judgement, though – some argue – these might also be chime with his own resentments.

Because the lodestar of science has allowed himself to become the pin-up boy of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), a group composed mainly of vengeful, academic Left-whingers, whose goal is the demonization, delegitimisation, and ultimate demise of one country and its people.

That nation isn’t an autocratic monarchy, a fanatically-religious theocracy or tyrannical one-party state where minorities are crushed. On the contrary, it’s a vibrant, liberal democracy, with a free Press, independent judiciary and an oasis of sanity in one of the planet’s craziest neighbourhoods.

Yet, so far as the gobby BDS heavy mob is concerned Israel is the crucible of world ills.  What sticks in their craw is it’s a dynamic, secular, Jewish state – the only one – created from the ashes of the Holocaust by United Nations decree as a homeland for a long-persecuted, dispossessed people, with incontestable rights to the ground their ancestors dwelt upon.

But, ignoring blindingly glaring truths – including Israel’s long search for peace – hysterical BDS bigots dispute its very right to exist and tar it with the accusations of ‘racism’ against Palestinians, likening Israel to South Africa’s repugnant Apartheid regime.

GULLIBLE GENIUS? Professor Stephen Hawking backed boycotters, but without Israeli technology he couldn't function

GULLIBLE GENIUS? Professor Stephen Hawking opted to back anti-Israel  BDS, but without Israeli technology he couldn’t function

Co-incidentally, its seeds were first sewn there, in Durban at the (anything but) 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which even moved Mary Robinson – a former Irish President, UN human rights chief and partial to the Palestinian cause – to say was infected with ‘a horrible anti-Semitic presence.’

However, BDS didn’t gain traction until a few years later, after the ghastly, Egyptian-born Mona Baker, head of translation studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, sacked two Israelis from a journal she headed, simply because they were Israelis.

From there it flowered among the right-on, far-Left, especially in Britain quirkily, who smugly contend they are such a learned elite, they know everything better than anyone else (except, perhaps, common sense).

Hence, they are happy to fall for seductive Palestinian spin without questioning its lack of validity. And their blunderbuss vilification of all things (and people) Israeli undermines any objective discussion of Israel government policies.

So, conveniently forgetting that 1.5-million Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedoms than their brethren in surrounding Muslim countries, that women have equal rights and aren’t stoned to death for adultery, that gays are not persecuted, that Israel is more culturally diverse than most Western nations, BDS hate-spewers subscribe to Iranian headbanger, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s madness to ‘wipe it off the face of the earth’

Far be it for them, then, to criticise Palestinian terror-mongers for suicide bombing outrages or launching indiscriminate rains of rockets from Gaza, where kids are used as human shields and cuddly Hamas murders opponents. And don’t ever imagine these uber-smart alecs vent their spleen on countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, North Korea, Egypt, Syria and, most particularly, Iran, which richly deserve censure for their appalling human rights violations.

Echoing that other bastion of unfettered prejudice, the UN Human Rights Council – a misnomer in every sense and, until his welcome demise, heavily under the influence of Libyan despot, Muammar Gaddafi – bullying BDS-ers see only one rogue state: Israel, which refuses to cave into Palestinian double-dealing and has the temerity to combat blackmail by terror.

Now, shamefully, Hawking has become a willing dupe of the BDS ship of fools, whose agenda runs exactly counter to all that academic and artistic freedom purports to represent.

UN human rights chief, Mary Robinson said 2001 Durban conference into xenophobia was rife with anti-Semitism

RACISM RIFE: UN human rights chief, Mary Robinson said 2001 Durban conference on xenophobia was infected with ‘a horrible, anti-Semitic presence’

Despite visiting Israel four times, the man who penned the best-selling baffler, A Brief History of Time, signalled his boycott sympathies earlier this month, by reneging on his acceptance of an invitation to attend Israel President, Shimon Peres’s annual conference.

In a lame attempt to justify his volte face, Hawking says his second thoughts were swayed by Palestinian academics, but that’s disingenuous. The fact is he was pressured by purblind BDS-ers – plus the American linguistics expert, Noam Chomsky, an ardent fan of Hezbollah and one-time guest of Hamas – whose tacit solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is a ‘one-nation state’ that doesn’t include ‘a Zionist entity’.

By his gullibility, Hawking has cast a dark cloud over academic integrity and lent his name to a gang of fanatics who judge a scientist only by his or her nationality, not the sum of all the health and wealth-giving breakthroughs they have pioneered.

However, his sad, flawed judgement has only accentuated the merits of Peres’s conference. Titled ‘Facing Tomorrow’, its intention is to address key issues than impact on mankind – from global politics and economics to the environment, education and much more.

Hawking would have been sharing a forum with former US President Bill Clinton, ex-British prime minister, Tony Blair, one-time Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and an array of prize-winning, fellow academics, politicians and business innovators from every civilised corner of the globe.

Probably also in attendance would be the geniuses who created NurOwn, the very medicine Hawking relies on to stall the progress of his illness, and the people who invented Intel’s Core i7 microchip that powers the awesome technology of his wheelchair-communications system.

Without either, he’d be trapped, wordless and immobilised; a physical and intellectual basket case.

Incidentally, his benefactors are Israelis, who shared their innovations with the world, otherwise nobody’s cellphone and laptop would work.

However, now he’s endorsed the boycotters’ credo of hate, it remains to be seen whether Hawking will surrender the life-enhancing gifts Israel’s scientists have brought him. Because, after all, that’s what BDS is all about.

It’s only ‘Hasta la vista, baby’…Hillary deserves to return as Madam President

Rarely do American Secretaries of State leave their mark as indelibly as the man behind the Oval Office desk. Most retire into obscurity and, apart from rare exceptions – perhaps remembered more for ineptitude than diplomacy – few leave a legacy of achievement to match that of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Naturally, no-one can hold public office without detractors and the legion of Hillary-bashers will continue deriding her as, variously, The Wicked Witch of the West Wing, Shrillery, The Bride of Clintonstein and worse.

Unforgiving feminist ultras will also ceaselessly attack her for sticking like a *dingleberry to her philandering hubby, Slick Willy, during a presidency frequently mired by scandal and tales too tall, they’d shame Baron Munchausen.

Somehow, though, both Clintons redeemed themselves and even Bill has reclaimed a measure of affection most thought unimaginable, especially after his outrageous claim that although Monika Lewinsky had sex with him, it wasn’t reciprocal (‘Ah wuz enjoin’ a ci-gar at the time,’ was his laughable excuse).

Hillary, meantime, was said to have only been given the job as US foreign minister by Barack Obama to stop her having a hissy fit after the ugly mud-slinging of the Democratic Party’s joust between the pair for the presidential nomination.

Without any prior diplomatic experience – except as hostess to foreign dignitaries in her eight years as First Lady – she was tipped to be a lame duck and cannon-fodder for the State Department mandarins.

Except, no siree, she wasn’t. In fact, she was anything but. And, though guile, charm, acute perception and hard-nosed determination, she refashioned American foreign policy following the gung-ho era of G ‘Dubya’ Bush – despite Obama making it transparent from Day One of his term the US would no longer be the world’s cop.

If anything, she has consistently outshone and outperformed her aloof Commander In Chief, leaving him exposed as more professorial more presidential, a ditherer not a doer, or – to use grid-iron football parlance – a quarterback who can’t deliver a Hail Mary, killer pass.

So, while Obama pondered, Hillary ploughed on, enduring one of the roughest, toughest rides of any Secretary of State.

Because, in stark contrast to the certainties of a Cold War nuclear stalemate between the West and the communist East, the world has disintegrated into an unpredictable, shifting morass, where – as Mali has just shown – conflict could ignite anywhere almost without warning.

As the old, secular dictatorial order throughout the Middle East tumbled like dominoes in a gale, Hillary gamely sought to maintain US influence on new regimes, mainly as anti-democratic as those they deposed, even if they gained power via the ballot box.

Undeniably, she was slow in confronting the Arab Spring, which overthrew Mubarak in Egypt, hoping against hope – reflecting the aspirations of all freedom-seekers – a tenable, democratic government would ensue, after the bloody sacrifices of the students and middle-classes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Instead, it heralded the dawn of the repugnant Muslim Brotherhood and is plunging the nation into fresh turmoil.

But, through Hillary, America sub-contracted assistance to the anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya to Britain and France, and wisely stayed out Syria’s civil war, where there’s every likelihood the opposition will replace Assad’s secular tyranny with Sharia-based despotism.

She also did her damnedest to bring sanity to prevail over the Israel-Palestine impasse. But Muslim Brotherhood cohorts, Hamas, only want to obliterate the Jewish state and fork-tongued Fatah, on the West Bank, can’t get their thick heads round the benefits of a peace dividend.

MADAM PRESIDENT? Hillary would be a shoe-in for the White House in 2016

MADAM PRESIDENT? Hillary would be a shoe-in for the White House in 2016

Meanwhile, Hillary urged Burma’s military to edge its way to democratic reforms, convinced China of the wisdom of distancing itself from the lunatic North Koreans and airbrushed nationalistic Russia off the diplomatic map, except where the pariahs of Syria are concerned.

And throughout all this, she had to deal with a United Nations General Assembly united on only one principle: its vehement hostility to the West (unless they were talking hand-outs).

Hillary also did her best in trying give the purblind Iranians a way to have nuclear power, minus a nuclear bomb, but there’s only so long anyone can be expected bang their head on a mosque wall.

Hence, there was never a more propitious time for her to quit office than now.

The US has all but exited Iraq and Afghanistan is on the back burner in relative diplomatic terms, after she forced Obama to agree to General David Petaeus’s ‘surge’ against the Taliban.

Whatever happens next to a Kabul regime so blighted by corruption, it make Spain’s money-grubbing sleazebags seem like choirboys, is up to her successor, newly-appointed, John Kerry.

Small wonder the former senator says, ‘I’ve got big high heels to fill.’

As an addendum, it’s well known within the Washington Beltway that taking out Osama bin Laden was at Hill’s behest. Again, Mr. President was a pretty passive bystander, not that it will inhibit him from claiming the credit.

So, after flying a million miles in US – and Western – interests, is it goodbye or just hasta la vista, baby for Madam C?

The political runes point to a ‘No’. On the contrary, with three years before the holographic reign of Obama fades away, if her health holds out, Hillary should be a shoe-in as the Democrats choice for the 2016 White House race, even aged 69 – a year younger than Ronald Reagan when he became President.

The world has witnessed Hillary Clinton as the consummate politico-cum-diplomatic high-achiever and the notion of a second Clinton in charge of America is making the Republicans wince.

After the debacle of Mitt Romney’s failure, their anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-immigrant philosophy is an auto wreck. It plays to no-one but the red necks, mainly in the old Confederate South and, as they’ll begrudgingly admit themselves, their antediluvian opinions don’t count for a mess of beans.

As Lloyd Green, former research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign, says, ‘Unlike her husband, Hillary is personally disciplined. Unlike Barack Obama, she has demonstrated an ability to connect with beer-track voters across the country.’

But will her gender be an impediment to her landing the ultimate office in the land? Not a bit, say pollsters, who reckon Romney’s lack of appeal to female voters was another reasons for his undoing.

So way to go, Hill, as the Yanks would say.

*Dingleberry: A small ball of excrement that sticks to the wool of a sheep’s backside (Dictionary of Slang)

The Obama Report: Must do better next term, Mr. Re-Elected President

Whatever the 2012 Presidential election demonstrated, it’s that the USA is nowhere near United as its name suggests.

Not for the first time the country is pretty well split asunder, more precisely 50/48. The centre largely remains steadfastly Republican red, while the densely-populated fringes Democrat blue.

In terms of the popular national vote it was, as Wellington noted after Waterloo, ‘a damn, close-run thing’ – something tellingly not reflected by the arcane Electoral College (EC), which allocates ballots per state populations.

However, as the brouhaha boiled down to a cluster of predicted swing states, maybe the contenders could have saved $6-billion and America a bout of national nausea over tedious telly ads, each candidate hell bent on trashing the other, and simply fought the contest on the see-saw battlegrounds of Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

The chatterati are pretty well agreed rustbelt Ohio (18 EC votes) was the clincher and what copper-bottomed it for Obama was his bail-out of near-broke automobile industry, one of the state’s major employers. Oddly, businessman Romney’s idea of allowing car giants, like General Motors, to go into ‘Chapter 11′ administration would have had the same, net effect, but let’s not get into the dark arts of corporate crisis accountancy.

Omni-storm Sandy was also a contributory factor. It gave Obama the brief chance to appear presidentially above the fray and, crucially, he visited New Jersey, one of the worst hit regions, comforting the homeless and promising aid. Romney (big boo-boo, Mitt!) stayed away and Democrats milked every second of air-time apropos his absence.

To be fair to the Republican challenger, he did far better than most pundits originally imagined. His wealth, Mormon faith – a heretic cult in the eyes of many Bible Belt Christians – and propensity to occasionally put his foot where his mouth was were undoubted impediments.

But, in hindsight, he was the best of an ill-starred bunch from the Right – some almost certifiable (Google: Michele Bachmann for confirmation), which says little for a schism-ridden party more divided than the nation itself.

And the US is not simply split, but increasingly factionalised as the polling statistics icily demonstrate.

COCK-A-HOOP: Obama celebrates his re-election in a victory shower of tinsel

Whites, predominantly males, voted 60/39 for Romney; African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos balloted almost en block for Obama. Clearly Obama’s vow to legalise the status of 11 million ‘illegals’ – mainly Spanish speakers – resonated (and think of the tax revenue this will scoop, not to say the hole it will blow in the ‘black’ economy).

The key constituency that garnered most supported for the incumbent, however, was women. This will rattle the Christian fundamentalist Right – as exemplified by Sarah Palin’s head-banging Tea Partiers – who tried to ram their anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage social agenda down the nation’s gullet.

Mainstream women understandably demand freedom to control their own bodies and even though Romney distanced himself from the extremists, he was viewed by many female voters as a risk too far.

So where does this leave Obama? Last time out, in 2008 he caned John McCain, a nice man in need of a personality transplant, winning the national vote by a margin of nine-and-a-half million and the Electoral College by a cricket score of 365 to 173.

This time, though, there’s a bitter-sweet tinge to victory. Despite how my irate detractors will fulminate, Obama is tarnished goods, an ideologue, who’s patently failed to deliver on his war-cry of ‘Change’ for the better.

Admittedly, not everything was his fault. He inherited the greedy banks’ ‘sub-prime’ mortgage crisis, G-Dubya’s inept attempt to impose democracy on Iraq – now a vassal state of the Iranian maniacs – the stalemate war in Afghanistan and a stuttering economy.

But, the glaring question is where did he nearly screw up, having been swept to power on a tsunami of popularity four years ago?

Baldly, the facts are: free-spending, uber-liberal Obama failed to halt the rise in a US deficit that impacts on the world – not that the financial imbroglio in the Eurozone is any help – failed to lift the US out of recession and failed to recognise his worthy, but ambitiously expensive ‘Obamacare’ NHS-style initiative was the right policy for the wrong time.

Mostly, he’s failed as a political operator at mending fences with a Republican-dominated House of Representative, in contrast to Bill Clinton. And if Obama – by all accounts a stubborn, aloof and irascible figure, inclined to throw his toys out of the pram if he doesn’t get his own way – continues his battle of attrition with Congress, ‘Change’ will be a hollow slogan.

Because, as Clinton seminally reminded George H. Bush back in ’92, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ and the squeezed middle classes of Blue Collar America want actions, not platitudes. To deliver, Obama needs friends in high places – Republicans at that – and learn the art of compromise with grace.

CRESTFALLEN: Republican challenger Mitt Romney bows his head and admits defeat

Though foreign policy was way down the election agenda, it’s clear the President must also radically revise his brief. He was blindsided by the Arab Spring-cum-Islamic Winter and the US can’t rely on the freemasonry of tyrants that once ruled the region, filling their personal coffers with American aid.

He’s been fortunate, though, to have had Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, because she’s a far savvier oracle of the international horizon than her boss, whose only marquee achievement was hastening Osama bin Laden wish to enter Paradise, succoured by a harem of nubile virgins (and, by all accounts, cutting the snake’s head off Al Qaeda was Hill’s idea).

Mrs. Clinton, however, is reported to be quitting office – possibly for a stab at the White House herself in 2016 – so replacing so sage a voice on foreign affairs is going to be tough challenge for the President.

Meanwhile, China – as the BBC’s John Simpson pointed out on election night – thinks Obama’s a wimp (an opinion echoed by Vladimir Putin); the Muslim Brotherhood sees him as a push-over; and the Taliban are just waiting to give the corrupt, quasi-democratic Afghanistan government a murderous kick up their shalwar kameez’d backsides when US troops exit in 2014.

At least, so far, Obama’s demurred from getting his hands dirty in the Syria civil war, where what constitutes the ‘rebels’ are a total conundrum to Washington.

America – and the West’s – one ally in the Middle East, Israel, not unreasonably doesn’t trust Obama an inch, despite their congratulatory rhetoric. This is especially so since his insistence the Jewish state retreats to pre-1967 borders – the so-called ‘Auschwitz Lines’, as Benjamin Netanyahu reminded the President in one acerbic tete-a-tete.

While the Palestinians are locked in an internal squabble between Fatah on the West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza, Obama has breathing space on that front, although meddling by the ‘bearded ones’ in Egypt’s new, Islamic regime may cause irritation.

What the President must do, however – and not merely at Israel’s behest – is take a tougher stance against Iran, who have lied, obfuscated and patently run down the clock over their nuclear ambitions.

Hillary Clinton could read the runes. Taking tiny Israel out of the equation, she knew if the crazy ayatollahs had a finger on the nuclear button, it would trigger an arms race for weapons of mass destruction and Saudi Arabia will be first in line for US know-how in building its own bomb.

However, probably the biggest imponderable facing Obama is how to deal with the emergent super status of China, especially with a new leadership in Beijing ready to be rubber-stamped.

Tellingly, in his final debate with Romney, he referred to the inscrutable Chinese as ‘both adversary, but also a potential partner.’

Obama might like to chew on a phrase attributed to Winston Churchill (though, Napoleon said something similar): ‘Beware the sleeping dragon. For when she awakes the earth will shake.’

Well, Mr. President, you’ve been granted four more years to sort out that dilemma and stop China throttling world trade. If you don’t, indeed the world will quake.

All the presidents’ women…from snarling French she-wolves to mumsy, US power gals

There’s an historic strain of common purpose between France and the USA, not simply because both nations threw off monarchies in the 18th Century and adopted pretty similar presidential styles of government.

There are other parallels, not least in the type of ballsy females who exert immense influence on the guys or hommes who hold the keys to the White House and Elysee Palace, though that where the two nations diverge.

It probably began when Josephine was said to have told Bonaparte, apropos bedroom gymnastics, ‘Not tonight, Nappy!’ (she probably added, ‘I ‘ave zee ‘eadache and, frankly, for a Frenchman you are a beet saggy in ze sack,’ though that’s unconfirmed).

In fact, despite all the hype of Frenchmen claiming the mantle of the world’s greatest ‘loovers’, La Belle France’s politicians have had a pretty dicky time of it, so to speak, from their respective partners.

Francois Mitterrand was said to have been in awe of his mistress Anne Pingeot; neo-fascist Jean Marie Le Pen’s missus, Pierette, ridiculed his multiple infidelities by posing nude for Playboy; and Cecilia Sarkozy got her retaliation in first…by eloping with a lover before the petit but perfectly-formed Nicholas could get his hands on the presidency and Carla Bruni.

Let’s not forget, either, Anne Sinclair, who finally kicked out her adulterous husband, Dominique Strauss Kahn – he of the yo-yoing trouser zipper – notwithstanding unproven allegations he raped a New York hotel chambermaid.

MICHELLE, MY BELLE: President Obama shares a joke with – and appreciation for – his charismatic wife

Now, in the best traditions of French farce  we hear the country’s newest leader, Francois Hollande – whose unassuming facade apparently hides a lusty seducer – is utterly intimidated by his volatile partner, Valeria Trierweiler. According to a new book, The Rebel, by two journalists who claim to know her snarling tantrums well, every time she throws a wobbler (often) he’s banned from her bed.

By contrast, on the other side of Le Pond, where politicians dance to the tune of US Puritanism, such scandals are rare as hen’s teeth (apart from the foibles of Bill Clinton, which were excusable, since he never had sex with Monica Lewinsky, even if she did with him).

Hence, in comparison with France’s political she-wolves, the likes of Michelle Obama and Ann Romney appear dutifully benign. Nonetheless, don’t mistake their mumsiness; the pair are ruthless tigresses, teak-tough power gals, who’ve made a telling impact on the build-up to the November 6th election.

Naturally, after four years exposure as the nation’s ‘Mom In Chief’, as she styles herself, the charismatic Michelle is familiar with the First Wives’ Club battleground, as much of a beauty contest as the one their husband are locked in.

Which is why you can read the indignation in her blazing eyes if ever Barak wilts in a verbal slug-fest, as he did in the first televised debate with Mitt Romney. Some even wonder if Michelle might have made a better boss of her nation than her sometimes ponderous hubby.

Meanwhile, Ann has campaigned as the archetypical, all-American wife, though, married to a multi-millionaire businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts, she’s anything but. Nonetheless, the story of her personal courage in overcoming breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, while bringing up five, feisty sons, resonates with the countless undeclared voters.

What both wives are accomplished at is ‘humanising’ their spouses, portraying them as something other than hard-nosed, combative politicos and, in Romney’s case, a robotic plutocrat, more at ease in a boardroom than on the hustings.

PLATFORM QUEEN: Ann Romney gives husband Mitt her total support in his US presidential bid

As new girl on the block, Ann, a vivacious, 63-year-old blonde who belies her years, actually stole the edge over Michelle, whose life story has been chronicled so often – the smart chick from a struggling, yet aspirant Chicago family, who wondered if Barak was good enough for their daughter – the handles have dropped off.

Ann talks of her roots, too; of how her Welsh grandfather worked down the pit from the age of six, until an industrial accident curtailed his career as a hewer of coal. So he emigrated to Detroit in the 1920s, founded the family fortune and realised the Great American Dream.

Michelle tells of how Barak ‘tucks me up in bed each night’ and boasts she’s the family gagster. Ann counters, saying she fell for Mitt at high school, married him at 19, and their early poverty forced them to live off tinned tuna and use the ironing board as a dining table.

Such anecdotes play well in the swing states of Florida, Wisconsin and Colorado, but rustbelt Ohio is the keystone, which is why both women have zeroed in there to use their schmooze and woo the hoverers.

So why Ohio? Because, quirkily, US Presidential jousts are not won by garnering an overall national majority – if so Al Gore would have taken the White House in 2000, not G-Dubya – but by winning individual states, each of which is allocated a number of Electoral College votes according to its population (i.e. Ohio has 18, Florida 29, Wisconsin 10 and Colorado 9).

Hence, out of the 538 Electoral College votes up for grabs, the first man to hit 270 wins.

According to early polls – maybe because of Ann’s influence – women voters tilted in Romney’s favour, men preferring Obama. There’s been a reversal since then, but, as the incumbent, the reigning President is marginally the bookies’ favourite.

There’s only one certainty: whoever wins, much of his success will be down to the power behind the Oval Office throne that wears a skirt.

Oh, how those masters of the French political universe must envy their US counterparts, with spouses who know the value of fidelity and adhere to the tacit American principle of standing by their man.