In Geneva, Switzerland, the United States and other major powers appeared close to a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions against the terrorist-sponsoring state. Negotiations, however, fell apart at the last minute when France and Iran balked at the final wording on the interim draft. Talks are expected to resume within a few weeks, but it is worth pausing to consider what was nearly agreed to and what the outcome could likely be.
President Obama has pledged to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that America has Israel's "back." Who knew he had a knife? An agreement that trusts Iran's promises and allows it to surreptitiously complete development of nuclear missiles would stab Israel in the back.
North Korea promised former President Jimmy Carter during his 1994 visit to Pyongyang it would close a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in exchange for food and humanitarian aid. The reactor was subsequently re-opened. Memo to the Obama administrations: tyrants lie.
Unlike North Korea, an officially atheist state, Iranian mullahs have repeatedly said they have a religious duty to annihilate Israel, not to mention America. How do secular diplomats negotiate with people who, in their minds, would be violating "Allah's will" by making deals with the "great Satan"?
While the negotiations between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran were taking place in Geneva, writes Ynetnews.com, "...the Iranian government sent a different message with a broadcast on state television of a simulated missile attack on Israel." How much more evidence of Iran's intentions and ultimate objective are needed?
Last month, Kerry and Netanyahu met for seven hours in Rome. Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, citing the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, writes, "The secretary of state told the prime minister that he heard from his European friends ... that if the negotiations (with the Palestinians) fail, Israel can forget about participating in the European research and development program 'Horizon 2020'." Kerry is then quoted as saying, "And that will only be the beginning."
Doesn't Kerry have this backward? Sanctions might be lifted against Iran for a promise that won't be kept, but possibly imposed on Israel if it won't agree to what amounts to assisted suicide?
It would also appear that this "deal" had been in the works for at least several months before the Geneva meetings. The Daily Beast reports: "The Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran's new president in June, well before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September."
The administration pledges to watch Iran closely and if it violates any provisions in a final agreement, sanctions would be re-imposed. If sanctions and other means, such as the introduction of the Stuxnet virus into Iran's computers, failed to deter Iran's nuclear program, why would anyone think additional threats and more sanctions would produce the desired results? Iran is playing for time and it appears the United States is willing to give it to them.
History is a great teacher, but not everyone pays attention. In "The Guns at Last Light," Rick Atkinson's chronicle of World War II, the author recalls President Franklin Roosevelt's view of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin following their meeting at Yalta in February 1945: "'Stalin doesn't want anything other than security for his country,' the president said. 'He won't try to annex anything and will work for a world of democracy and peace.'"
Winston Churchill similarly misjudged Stalin, writes Atkinson, telling his war cabinet, "'Stalin I'm sure means well to the world and Poland. ... He will not embark on bad adventures.' He added, 'I don't think I'm wrong about Stalin,' whom he had called 'that great and good man.'"
Times and dictators change, but human nature remains the same. Roosevelt and Churchill were wrong about Stalin and the Obama administration is wrong about Iran.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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