…and our new enemy, Israel.
I get tired sometimes of writing “this is no surprise” about what the Obama administration does. But: this is no surprise.
The word “historic,” which has been used in many articles about the deal with the Iranians, has no particular valence—no relation to good or bad or indifferent. It merely means something of significance to history. And when the Iranians are happy about something and hail it as a “new era,” and the Israelis are furious, condemning it as a “historic mistake,” you better believe it’s not of significance in a good way.
Unless, of course, you’re on Iran’s side. Which, sadly enough, it’s been clear for some time that the Obama administration is. That or the alternative, which is that Obama and company are naive dupes. It’s the old “knave or fool” dilemma, and I suppose there’s room (as there often is with this administration) for the answer to be “both.”
John Bolton doesn’t mince words:
This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective. Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement. Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.” This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club. Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.
Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more. Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges. Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U.S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.
Bolton goes on to suggest that this agreement makes Israel’s position even more difficult than before, but its position was already extremely difficult to begin with. His entire piece is well worth reading.
I happened to catch a minute or so of Obama, and then Kerry, hailing and describing their agreement: what it does, what it doesn’t do. I noted that, although both have long been difficult to listen to (Kerry for well-nigh forty years), now both seem to have lost whatever shred of credibility that had still clung to them until now. In particular, Obama passed some turning point with his repeated “If you like your health plan…” pronouncements that showed unequivocally and forever more how cool and how sincere he can sound when he’s lying through his teeth. Once the American public has seen that, how can they ever believe him again?
I wonder how many people in this country are with him on this one. Oh, the far left is, and Valerie Jarrett. But even Congress seems unhappy, since they may vote for increased sanctions on Iran in some sort of probably unenforceable move:
But the announcement, after months of secret face-to-face talks between the United States and Iran, left many U.S. lawmakers deeply doubtful of the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, said Sunday he would work with colleagues to have sanctions against Iran ready “should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement.”
Such distrust that Iran was negotiating in good faith ran across political parties that are otherwise deeply divided. And ready-to-go sanctions seemed to have rare bipartisan support across both of Congress’ chambers.
Why the difference between the president and Congress? Well, members of Congress still have to answer to the American people, whereas a second-term president does not. Would it not be ironic if one of the very few bipartisan bills passed in Congress were to be one where the parties united against Obama? It would be interesting to see whether Obama would veto it, or would just go around it in some administrative manner, if it were to be passed. And if he vetoed it, it would be interesting to see whether Congress would have the votes to override his veto. I doubt there are that many profiles in courage around.
[NOTE: Gabriel Malor at Ace's points out that the new agreement was praised by Syria, Iran, Russia, China, and the EU, which certainly should tell you something. I've been looking for some words of praise from Democratic politicians in this country who are on Obama's side, and all I've found so far from Obama's strongest allies are tepid declarations of hopeful first steps combined with concerns.]