You have to give President Obama credit. The man is an optimist. He believes a country that has spent the better part of its existence since overthrowing the Shah in 1979 -- sticking its thumb in the eye of America and our allies -- will abide by an agreement and potentially create a new world order. That man glows with optimism. You have to love it.
Since the nuclear deal has been announced there has been a flood of analysis. I have read both sides, though I have to say there was a lot more condemning the deal than defending it. I believe for the most part it is all talk since the chances of the Congress overriding a presidential veto are almost nil as Obama will browbeat Democrats, threatening them with the demise of his legacy and worse telling them they are accomplices on the path to war.
When I listened to and read the interview Mr. Obama gave to Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist who is his handpicked megaphone, it hit me about something that I had not read in the other analyses by many people smarter than I on the issue of foreign affairs and the Iranian situation. Most of those people focused on the facts of the agreement like length of term, number of centrifuges, inspection regime and sanction relief.
Though many had mentioned the fact that others matters were not included in this deal, this topic had been beaten back for a long time by the Obama team. They had stated that these other matters did not fall within the scope of the negotiations. At various times Obama stated that this agreement was not about regime change. Well, not too many, if any, people I have read had said it was despite their hope for that happening at some point, and the sooner the better. Any promise of that was abandoned when Obama would not back the Iranian protesters in 2011-2012, when some hope of a cascading situation would level the Ayatollah.
President Obama stated in the interview “What has been striking to me is the critics shifting off the nuclear issue and they are moving into ‘well even if the nuclear issue is dealt with they’re still going to be sponsoring terrorism and get sanctions relief and they are going to have more money to engage in these bad activities.’ That is a possibility. The central premise is if they get a nuclear weapon that will be different.” He then stated we would have to work with our allies to control Iran’s other actions.
One can accept that he earnestly believes what he stated there. I just don’t see how. The premise he is really laying out is that on one hand we will stifle Iran’s nuclear program through a treaty (if you wish to call it that) yet be at war with them all over the Middle East. Our allies are in an international war with Hezbollah, a medium hot war with Hamas and a hot war with the Houthis. The common denominator is they are all sponsored by Iran. Iran was also the sponsor of the Syrian regime before that mess happened and are very much responsible for the death of over 200,000 Syrians and a flood of refugees into our ally Jordan. Additionally, they are stirring up trouble in throughout South America. Just think how their activities will be enhanced with $100+ billion to throw around. Yes, we may be controlling one aspect of their regime, but we and our allies are in an armed struggle with them and will remain so after this agreement.
While negotiating with an adversary, you wish to establish some levels of goodwill with them. There appears to be none established here. We could not even get four Americans released as part of the agreement. Even if you did not want to have them used as a bargaining chip for the deal, you could have moved to get them released. I have negotiated many agreements and even some with Persians (though far more civil than these Persians). After the deal was done, I would have leaned across the table and looked my negotiating partner in the eye and say “We worked hard here. It would show a great amount of goodwill and earn a lot of respect for your country moving forward if you released the four Americans you are holding. It means a lot to the American people. Can you work with me here?” Our people did not even get that. It appears the Iranians did not even consider it as a gesture? We were able to extract a war criminal (Bowe Bergdahl) out of the Taliban, but could not even garner a small matter of benevolence from Iran. And we are supposed to believe we have moved our relationship forward. The Ayatollah does not think so nor should we.
Sure it would be great to get regime change, but we did not even get minor behavioral modification. How can you possibly believe matters will go well with Iran in the nuclear area where zero has been asked to change and zero has been indicated it will change on other aspects of their behavioral patterns? It would suggest that Iran would be operating under a split personality, joyful to be a good citizen over here and committing mayhem over there.
Frankly, the proposition is nuts, will never work, and should be the true focus of the failure of this agreement.