April 20, 2015
WE HAVE ENTERED a state of
emergency. The Obama administration is pursuing policies that effectively
serve the purposes of one of America’s greatest foes and treat one of
America’s dearest friends as though it were an adversary. The White House has
implicitly taken up the cause of normalizing Iran and has become at the very
least complicit in the international goal of isolating Israel.
Barack Obama has decided
the key to his legacy is a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will enshrine
its nuclear capacity but delay its ability to build and deploy a bomb for a
time—that is, assuming Iran doesn’t cheat, which is an assumption that
requires a leap of geopolitical faith Blaise Pascal would have blanched at.
Meanwhile, 970 miles from Tehran, the State of Israel finds itself the unwanted
focus of another Obama legacy effort: the effort to drive a wedge between the
two countries and thereby realign America’s interests in the Middle East away
from Israel’s interests.
In making clear his desire
to establish a working relationship with a nation that does not abide by any
standards of civilized conduct, a nation that oppresses in medieval fashion at
home and that is the worst state sponsor of terrorism abroad, the president is
tacitly accepting the everyday behavior and casting a blind eye on the plain
language of one of the world’s most monstrous regimes.
“There is a practical
streak to the Iranian regime,” the president told Thomas L. Friedman of the New
York Times on April 5.
“There [is] an appetite among the Iranian people for a rejoining with the international
community, an emphasis on the economics and the desire to link up with a global
economy. And so what we’ve seen over the last several years, I think, is the
opportunity for those forces within Iran that want to break out of the rigid
framework that they have been in for a long time to move in a different
direction. It’s not a radical break, but it’s one that I think offers us the
chance for a different type of relationship.”
The overall purpose here is
to remake the geopolitical map and include Iran among the nations with which
we can and should do business. From this perspective, Iran’s systematic record
of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and its role as the world’s most active
state sponsor of terrorism are not bugs but features: Iran is important not only
because it is an oil-rich state with religious and ideological ambitions, but
also because it has set itself against the United States and the West. And so it
must be attended to, its concerns taken seriously, its desires and wishes
accorded respect. In Obama’s view, it is with adversaries that America must
enmesh itself to find some form of common ground.
This theory has governed
most of the Obama administration’s foreign-policy approaches over the past
six years, from the Russian reset to the opening to Cuba. The corollary is that
little or no positive attention needs to be paid to allies, especially if those
allies are inconveniently situated either geographically or ideologically.
Thus, in 2009, Obama had no problem abrogating the long-standing deal to put
missile-defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, even though they are
two stalwart friends of the United States, because they interfered with his
efforts to improve the American relationship with Vladimir Putin.
Even those countries that
we should not call our friends but with which many of our national interests
align are to be consigned to the second ring of concern. Thus, while the
president speaks gently of Iran and draws parallels between its politics and
ours—it is a “complicated country,” he said to Friedman, “just as
America is a complicated country”—he offers systematic criticism of the
internal dynamics of the Sunni Arab nations in the Middle East that have
expressed alarm over the thaw: “I think the biggest threats that they face may
not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside
their own countries.”
The Obama policy of
behaving high-handedly toward friends and charitably toward foes is most striking
in the case of the State of Israel. The president and his people speak with
barely disguised disgust about the policies of a friendly government and rough
election-day tactics in a vibrant democracy in which 72.3 percent of those
eligible to vote did so. They talk of revisiting the relationship with Israel,
reevaluating it—all of which is code-speak for withdrawing American protection
from Israel in the international bodies that wish to do it injury.
It was not mere chance that
these two legacy policies converged in the month of March 2015. Something more
sinister was at work.
RESULTS of Israel’s election on March 17 were disappointing to the president
and his team, given how tirelessly they had worked to undermine the eventually
victorious Netanyahu. A key Obama campaign aide named Jeremy Bird had been
dispatched to the Holy Land to manage a get-out-the-vote group called V15 whose
sole campaign message was “Anyone But Bibi.” In the end, Netanyahu’s Likud
party garnered 30 seats, as opposed to the 18 seats it had won just two years
earlier—a result that has to be seen as a conscious rebuke of Obama’s effort
to unseat the Israeli prime minister. In choosing not to reject Netanyahu but to
strengthen him, Israelis effectively endorsed the views of Obama’s most
dangerous critic—the only democratically elected leader on earth who might
find it necessary to act drastically to save his country in a way that would
scuttle Obama’s vision for the future of the Middle East.
Netanyahu has made it clear
that he cannot stand by while a course is charted to a future in which Iran can
build and deploy a nuclear weapon, given that its millenarian leaders have
vowed to wipe Israel off the map. But under the terms of the strange April 2
agreement-with-Iran-that-is-not-really-an-agreement—terms we know the
president had already conceded well before the Israeli elections on March
17—Obama has effectively endorsed a future in which Iran will have the power
and the means to do exactly that.
Shockingly, on April 5,
Obama acknowledged to NPR that at
best the deal keeps Iran
from going nuclear for a dozen years. (He did so unprompted by the
interviewer, suggesting that for a moment the president had come under the
spell cast on Jim Carrey in Liar
Liar to speak the truth even
when it would harm him to do so.) Forget about cheating: Even that 12-year delay
will come about only if Iran hews to every particular of the terms Obama and
Secretary of State John Kerry announced so triumphantly on April 2. Obama surely
knows Iran is unlikely to assent to those terms in the final agreement to be
signed on June 30—because a) Iran instantly began balking at the specifics
we laid out and b) if those terms had been acceptable, the deal could have been
signed and sealed in Switzerland. And yet Obama also felt free to tell
Friedman that “this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a
nuclear weapon.” The man who said “if you like your doctor, you can keep
your doctor” when he knew it was untrue is repurposing the ObamaCare communications
strategy for the Iran deal.
It is unquestionable that
the understanding Obama’s underlings reached with Iran will at the very least
permit the Islamic Republic to retain a stockpile of uranium, the advanced
devices that can convert it into the guts of a bomb in a matter of months, and
the facilities in which to do it. We are told Iran has agreed to dilute the
uranium, put the centrifuges in a locked closet, and call its hardened bunker at
Fordow “a research center.”
For the hard work of
accepting such a deal, Iran will receive tens of billions of dollars in payoff
money it can use for other purposes, thus freeing up resources to continue its
work on military applications of nuclear technology if that suits the mullahs.
But look, Obama says. The
deal-that’s-not-a-deal means Iran won’t be nuclear for a while yet, and the
Iranians probably don’t mean it when they say they will destroy Israel, and
even if they do, so what, because they’ll never try it, and you know what, if
they do try it, America will “have Israel’s back.” Which sounds nice, but
is useless as a basis for policy, since in the aftermath of a nuclear strike,
Israel will not have a back for America to have, only tens if not hundreds of
thousands dead and/or sickened unto death.
And this is the point. Of
all the things on earth Obama does not have, “Israel’s back” ranks close
to the top. For somehow, over the course of the nine years the world has been
grappling with the Iranian nuclear threat, the goals of the United States have
been defined downward—from prevention to containment. We have gone from
insisting we had to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power (something the
president declared unconditionally he would not allow to happen) to adopting
a policy designed to manage Iran’s existence as one.
The term of art is that
Iran has now become, and will remain, a “threshold nuclear power.” Some
threshold: According to the president, Iran can cross it in two months. Obama
says the deal—if there is a deal and if that deal is adhered to—will
lengthen the distance across the threshold to a year, for another dozen years.
In year 13, the threshold disappears. But 2028 is a long time from now. We’ll
all be driving flying cars and living on Venus by then.
There are several reasons
the original goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon altogether
was absolutely necessary—among them, to forestall a Sunni–Shia nuclear-arms
race in the Middle East and to keep a revolutionary terror-supporting
anti-American regime from becoming a first-order world power.
Practically, however, the
threat an Iranian nuke poses was and is primarily to one country—a country
Iran’s former president continually said would soon cease to exist. Now,
lest one think the goal of Israel’s destruction retired along with Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad in 2013, please note that the leader of its religious police militia
said on March 30 that the aim of “erasing Israel off the map” is
So the danger an Iranian
nuke poses to the good working order of the world is profound. It will reorder
military and strategic priorities in a profoundly destabilizing way over the
course of this century. But the danger a deployed Iranian nuke poses to millions
of Israelis is instantaneous.
And we should not balk at
speaking the truth: Should a pact with Iran be signed, Barack Obama will be
complicit in the act of casting a nuclear shadow over the future of the Jewish
people, whose continued existence on this earth could not survive a mushroom cloud
over Tel Aviv—which would constitute a second Holocaust within living memory
of the first.
TERRIFYING TRUTH is at the core of the warning Benjamin Netanyahu has been
delivering about the Iranian threat for six years now—the warning against the
temptation to believe it will be acceptable for Iran to go nuclear. Obama has
surrendered to that temptation. He has now made an Iranian bomb acceptable.
Was the accuracy of
Netanyahu’s characterization the true cause of Obama’s astonishingly vituperative
response to Netanyahu’s conduct in the days leading up to the Israeli
election? First Netanyahu acknowledged to an interviewer that current Palestinian
conduct meant there would be no Palestinian state during his premiership—which
is the truth and nothing but the truth, though it is a truth fantasists are
loath to acknowledge and one that those who believe peace will be served by the
creation of such a state as soon as possible find galling to hear.
Then, on election day,
Netanyahu engaged in a profoundly ill-advised get-out-the-vote tactic by warning
in vulgar terms of increased Arab-Israeli participation. That was distasteful
and inappropriate, but it was far less ugly than election-day moves during other
elections in other democratic countries whose results Obama has welcomed and
celebrated in years past.
No matter. Obama’s press
secretary, Josh Earnest, said Netanyahu’s words about Arab voters “turning
out in droves” were so horrific they “undermine the values and democratic
ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what
binds the United States and Israel together.” Indeed, those words coupled with
what the prime minister had said about Palestinian statehood triggered a phone
call in which, according to a White House official speaking to Reuters, “the
president told the prime minister that we will need to reassess our options
following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the
Even after Netanyahu
clarified his remarks and said he believed the best future for Israel was a
two-state solution, the White House did not relent. “We do take him at his
word,” said the press secretary before saying they didn’t take him at his
word: “But he was quite clear that he did not envision a scenario where a
Palestinian state would be established while he was the prime minister of
Israel. . . . And his lack of commitment to what has been the foundation of
our policy-making in the region means that the United States should rightfully
reevaluate the kinds of policy decisions that we make as it relates to the
Middle East. And that’s what the president has said he will do.”
Let us be clear about what
the White House is considering. It is threatening to cease protecting Israel
from the jackals at the United Nations and other international organizations.
These words from the Obama administration came the same week that the UN’s
Commission on the Status of Women singled out Israel—alone among the UN’s
193 member nations—as the worst abuser of women’s rights in the world. In
brief, Obama is signaling his desire to Europeanize American policy toward
Two weeks later, Obama told
Friedman: “It has been personally difficult for me to hear . . . expressions
that somehow . . . this administration has not done everything it could to
look out for Israel’s interest.” Why? “Because of the deep affinities that
I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people.”
of my best friends are Jewish.
LIBERAL American Jews think of Obama as their friend. He is not—not the friend
of any Jew who understands his people are under unique and unprecedented threat.
Obama is working to strengthen not only Iran’s hand but also the hand of those
in the United States who believe the relationship between the U.S. and the
Jewish state should be cleaved.
Nor is Obama a friend of
Israel, for his policies are now aiding and abetting the nation that poses a
literally apocalyptic danger to the Jewish people. If this deal is signed on
June 30, Barack Obama will have made the world a far less safe and far more
dangerous place—and by signing it, he will have signaled his willingness to
see the Jewish future sacrificed on the altar of his own ambitions.
The threat is not
immediate. The emergency is.