Cliff May

“I assure you nobody ends up being more war-weary than me.”
— President Barack Obama, August 30, 2013

Imagine you’re Iranian president Hassan Rouhani or his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or Major General Qassem Suleimani, who leads the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which, according to the U.S. Defense Department, is charged with “extraterritorial operations,” including assassinations, insurgency, and terrorist attacks.

The American president openly admits that he and his nation are tired of fighting. You, on the other hand, are not — despite crippling sanctions, a war with Iraq that cost a million casualties between 1980 and 1988, and the strain of continuing to support the embattled dictatorship in Syria. You wake up each morning eager to wage jihad against “the Great Satan” and his friends.

Deceiving your enemy has never been difficult, but these days, it seems, Americans are eager to deceive themselves. For example, on Friday Politico ran the headline: “For Obama, finally, a foreign policy win.” Specifically: “Obama became the first American president in 34 years to speak directly with his Iranian counterpart. . . . Obama touted the progress his team has made negotiating on Syria and the opening of talks with Iran, the nation’s nemesis for two generations.”

Iran’s rulers, according to the U.S. State Department, have long been the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism. They are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They plotted to blow up a restaurant just a few miles from the White House in October 2011. In 1983, they ordered the slaughter of hundreds of U.S. Marines in Beirut. In 1979, they took American diplomats hostage. Yet persuading Rouhani — who actually is not Obama’s “counterpart” but rather the top adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei — to chat on the phone following his refusal to shake Obama’s hand at the U.N. constitutes a foreign-policy victory? Really?

As for Syria, there is a U.N. Security Council resolution. It allows Bashar Assad, Iran’s client, to get away with mass murder and state terrorism. The resolution does not even declare him guilty; much less does it inflict punishment. All that is required is for Assad to surrender the stockpiles of chemical weapons he long denied possessing.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.