Ponder the dire significance of the extraordinary story from MSNBC(!) last Friday, reporting on US “incoherence” in the Middle East, the exploding chaos there, and the shocking news Arab states like Egypt, the Saudis, and UAE are withholding intelligence and launching attacks without consulting the US. Why? Because they don’t trust Obama not to leak information to Iran. In seeking closer ties with Iran, Obama is threatening every other strategic US relationship in the region and candidly committing alliance-cide against America’s closest ally there, Israel.
The president, as chief executive and commander in chief may be the captain of foreign policy, but the Senate, representing the American public, has a Constitutional role, which Obama is deliberately evading.
What is happening is historically unprecedented. It makes Nixon-goes-to-China look like a Junior League milk and cookies outreach. Obama is pursuing a one-man foreign policy of realigning the US in the Middle East, ending our friendship with Israel, forging ties with Iran, and facilitating, or at least benignly accepting, the expansion of Iran’s interests, influence, and agents throughout the region.
This profound agenda is not one he ran on. It is not disclosed to, or understood by, the American people. It is not vetted or discussed in high circles of military and security leadership. It is contrary to long and widely held understandings of US security interests. It is a covert one man revolution.
In playing his chess pieces, Obama unsuccessfully pressed Egypt to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood; stiff-armed the courageous President al-Sisi who wants to move Egypt closer to America, keep peace with Israel, and move Islam closer to modernity; launched unprovoked missiles against Libya’s Qaddafi, lighting that nation on fire, delivering it to chaos and Iran-backed rebels; played patsy with Iran’s client Assad while Assad scorned Obama’s red lines and gassed civilians; and manufactured an escalating series of confrontations and crises with Israel, most recently exposing top secret details of its previously unacknowledged nuclear program. After Yemen fell to Iran backed rebels, the White House continues to insist its approach there is a “model of effective counterterrorism.”
Against all the other dots in this picture, it’s becoming apparent the trade of five Taliban field leaders for one US deserter was not a “bad deal” but a head fake. Bergdahl was just cover for Obama to hand back five Jihadi leaders and move closer to his goal of closing Gitmo.
Recent reports of the surreal “negotiations” with Iran would make for farce if they weren’t terrifyingly real. Alone among the P5 + 1 world powers, the US is desperate to sweeten the pot to offer Iran whatever it takes. Obama originally set a redline of 500 high-speed centrifuges; we now shrug at 6,000. We’re good with Iran continuing operations at its reinforced, underground lab. It doesn’t have to reveal its ongoing research with military dimensions until after the world lifts sanctions…wink. Surprise inspections will be rare to never. Last week, the Associated Press astonishingly reported a final agreement may not even be in writing. Spokesman Josh Earnest failed to deny that unfathomable idea after three direct queries.
We recently witnessed the spectacle of France trying to put the brakes on this runaway concession train, complaining it’s a weak, bad, unenforceable deal and the US is still conceding. That’s something…the French accusing Americans of being burger eating surrender monkeys.
The president’s defenders might call his upheaval a matter of high stakes, high risk strategy to improve US standing in the Middle East by aligning it with the region’s strongest power. Other commentators might call it wrongheaded, reckless, and dangerous. And others, seeing what’s right in front of their face, might call it hostile to America’s interests and security, treacherous to America’s allies, and of great aid and comfort to America’s enemies.
Under a different Iranian regime, maybe a secular one, or a reformist product of the Green Revolution that Obama strangely spurned, it might make sense to support Iran as a stabilizing force. It’s the Mullacracy with its radical, bloody vision that makes Obama’s policy deranged. His defenders and critics alike speculate Obama is betting the regime can be enticed to make nice and join the community of nations during the limited lifespan of the agreement. But that surmise is incoherent. If Obama wanted a reformed Iran, he would have spoken up for millions of brave protesters who confronted the Mullahs and pled for his support. He stood mute as they were brutally crushed.
It’s an unresolved question if, or where, there is a redline that a president’s policies abroad become Constitutionally actionable. His leads in foreign policy. But, he also took an oath to protect American peace and security. If, for an extreme hypothetical, videotape emerged showing a president handing over US nuclear codes to Vladimir Putin, presumably, he would be dealt with as a treasonous traitor, his foreign policy authority notwithstanding.
Obama’s actions in the Middle East raise troubling questions about how fundamentally a president can contradict deeply rooted US understandings, policies, and alliances before he enters a danger zone. Cutting off the Senate’s voice adds to the gravity. To conclude any position a president holds, no matter how radical, must be the position of the US, is akin to embracing Louis XIV’s declaration: “"L'État, c'est moi" or Richard Nixon’s more recent formulation: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Twenty months remain in this presidency. About a day is left till Obama’s contrived deadline to reach a deal with Iran. It may be one of the only lines he means to respect. Few imagined after the 2012 election how fast events would unfold in the Middle East and how fast Obama’s hand would emerge into view. It is going to be a dangerous and scary ride.