Obama’s Convoluted Logic on Iran

By Moshe Arens


July 19, 2015

President Barack Obama is building an impressive case in defense of the agreement that has been concluded in Vienna between the P5+1 negotiators and Iran. In his words, “arguments rejecting the Iran deal defy logic” and “they make no sense.” He says the objective of the negotiations was to strike a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. While the obvious means of attaining this objective was to have Iran dismantle the vast infrastructure they have built over the years in the quest for a nuclear bomb, Obama argues that the Iranians would not agree to that, while a military strike to accomplish that would mean war, which he wants to avoid. In other words any deal, no matter how bad, which is acceptable to the Iranians, is the best deal possible, and is therefore by definition a good deal.

That Obama had abandoned his previous position that “all options are on the table,” in effect removing the potential threat of a military strike against a recalcitrant Iran, was obvious to all, especially the Iranians, before the negotiations began. As Obama said in defense of the agreement, war is not an option. So what options were left on the table as the negotiations proceeded? Actually, none. Arbitrary deadlines that were set for concluding an agreement, made it clear that extending the negotiations, while the sanctions on Iran continued to soften up the Iranians was also not an option on the table. Walking out on the negotiations and ratcheting up the sanctions and applying additional pressure, while the Iranian economy self-destructed, was evidently also not an option. Evidently no options were left on the table except for agreeing to the Iranian conditions. And the Iranians, really smart negotiators, caught on quickly.

An example of the backpedaling which took place in the negotiations is the inspection issue. A perfect inspection regime would catch any violation of the agreement by the Iranians as they were being committed. Thus despite the vast existing nuclear infrastructure the status of the Iranian nuclear project could be frozen in time. So the agreement was to provide for inspections in Iran “anytime, anyplace.” It was to be an essential element of an imperfect agreement. Now, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman admits this demand was no more than a rhetorical flourish, and they had to settle for inspections to take place 24 days after they would be requested of the Iranians.

The Iranians may not come up with a nuclear bomb for a while, and when they do they may not use it, but the negative effects of the agreement on the countries of the Middle East are going to be immediate. It will provide Iran with great resources to be used in promoting terrorist organizations in the area, terrorist organizations aiming to harm America’s allies. It will greatly increase Iran’s nefarious influence in the area. To justify this Obama says “Iran will be and should be a regional power.” America may yet rue the day it helped to make Iran a regional power. As for the effect of growing Iranian influence in the area on America’s allies, Obama explains that “it is not the job of the president to solve every problem in the Middle East.” The fact is that this agreement will make these problems worse, and the first to feel the effect will be Israel and Saudi Arabia. They will have to deal with the mess created by the agreement. No wonder Bashar Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas are jubilant.

The basic flaw in the negotiating process was the refusal or inability of the P5+1 negotiators to realize who they were dealing with, when facing the Iranian negotiators receiving their orders from the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei. He makes no secret of his intentions – the destruction of the State of Israel and “death to America.” It is difficult not to draw a comparison with the ill-fated negotiations at Munich in 1938. There too Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier were determined to avoid war and bring “peace for our time.” They just did not realize who they were dealing with.