Apologies for quoting myself, but here's what I wrote within hours of Benjamin Netanyahu's dramatic victory Tuesday night -- then repeated here on Wednesday morning:
Parting thought: Given Obama's knee-jerk rejection of electoral thumpings, Tehran should consider adding some big demands to their list. Who knows what O might be willing to agree to, out of spite for Israeli voters, Bibi and the Cotton 47? Gulp.
My point was pretty simple. This president has extremely thin skin and extraordinary self regard. He views rejections of his agenda as personal affronts; in his mind, such setbacks not are not occasions for reflection and reconsideration, but unforgivable provocations and betrayals. Hence the White House's assertion that Obama feels "liberated" by Republicans' 2014 sweep, evidenced by his executive amnesty power grab -- which he'd previously dismissed as illegal, and against which the GOP had successfully campaigned. Given Obama's vindictive posture against political opponents and voters who don't accede to his wishes, I reasoned, there was a good chance he'd turn his petty instincts against Israelis and their leader. Our president personally despises Netanyahu, partly because Israel's Prime Minister has demonstrated the temerity to challenge and defy him in public. By endorsing Netanyahu, despite alleged and unseemly American influence, the Israeli electorate explicitly crossed Obama, an inexpiable sin. Indeed, there will be consequences. Exhibit A:
As I said Tuesday night, Iran should issue new demands. Obama sees red, and is a punishing mood. His appetite for vengeance against Republican critics and Israel's leadership may be strong enough to compel him to agree to additional Iranian concessions, because that'll show 'em. Which brings us to the disgraceful exhibit B:
In the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive reelection, the Obama administration is revisiting longtime assumptions about America’s role as a shield for Israel against international pressure. Angered by Netanyahu’s hard-line platform toward the Palestinians, top Obama officials would not rule out the possibility of a change in American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has historically fended off resolutions hostile to Israel.
The White House would no doubt use Netanyahu's "marginalization of Arabs" as a pretext for America's potential abandonment of our close ally to the international community's rabidly anti-Israel wolves. Jennifer Rubin deals with those allegations here. Bill Kristol thinks Congress should immediately pass a resolution affirming the US' support for Israel against the United Nations "jackals." A fine idea, in theory, but how would that modify the Obama administration's behavior? It's quite clear that they couldn't care less about what Congress thinks. He does not view them as a co-equal branch of government. He views them as an annoying, disposable obstacle to the implementation of his agenda. Meanwhile, the Associated Press has new details on the emerging contours of the dangerous Iran deal:
A draft nuclear accord now being negotiated between the United States and Iran would force Iran to cut hardware it could use to make an atomic bomb by about 40 percent for at least a decade, while offering the Iranians immediate relief from sanctions that have crippled their economy, officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. As an added enticement, elements of a U.N. arms embargo against Iran could be rolled back...Officials said the tentative deal imposes new limits on the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium, a process that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material. The sides are zeroing in on a cap of 6,000 centrifuges, officials said, down from the 6,500 they spoke of in recent weeks. That's also less than the 10,000 such machines Tehran now runs, yet substantially more than the 500 to 1,500 that Washington originally wanted as a ceiling. Only a year ago, U.S. officials floated 4,000 as a possible compromise...Washington believes it can extend the time Tehran would need to produce a nuclear weapon to at least a year for the 10 years it is under the moratorium. Right now, Iran would require only two to three months to amass enough material if it covertly seeks to "break out" toward the bomb. The one-year breakout time has become a point the Obama administration is reluctant to cross in the set of highly technical talks, and that bare minimum would be maintained for 10 years as part of the draft deal. After that, the restrictions would be slowly eased...Any March framework agreement is unlikely to constrain Iran's missile program, which the United States believes may ultimately be aimed at creating delivery systems for nuclear warheads. Diplomats say that as the talks move to deadline, the Iranians continue to insist that missile curbs are not up for discussion.
So Iran gets a bestowal of international legitimacy on its intact nuclear program, it keeps thousands of spinning centrifuges (more than the perceived minimum needed to make a bomb), it receives a huge economic shot in the arm via major sanctions relief, and its rogue missile program doesn't get touched. Iran is required to make no meaningful changes to its terrorism-financing and facilitation, its meddling and undermining of foreign governments, or its horrific human rights record. And the restrictions imposed by the pact have an expiration date, getting phased out after just a decade. In return, the West gets...a promise from Iran that it'll reduce the scope and activity of its illegal nuclear program (presumably with some verification measures), which hopefully ensures that the regime's "breakout" time horizon is lengthened by a number of months. All of this presumes, of course, that Tehran doesn't cheat, as it always does. They've been actively cheating on UN-imposed arms restrictions, and they've even violated the interim deal struck as a condition to continue the current negotiations. What about that? The Obama administration says it was just an honest mistake:
When nuclear monitors said Iran had started testing a single advanced centrifuge last year, some U.S. politicians and analysts jumped on the report as proof the Islamic Republic can’t be trusted. To U.S. officials negotiating with Iran, it was probably just a mistake -- one that shows the pitfalls in the highly technical accord being discussed. Describing the incident in detail for the first time, U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified following diplomatic rules, said the testing was probably done by a low-level employee on Iran’s nuclear program who didn’t understand the limits placed on his experimentation.
Incredible. Steve Hayes succinctly sums up the distressing Smart Power state of play: