Although nothing is yet definite, it looks like a deal with Iran is coming, at least in principle. What that means is the parties—an incompetent president who has been wrong about virtually everything he had tried in the Middle East; a bumbling Secretary of State; their Team of 2s who support this president's actions like robots who have been programmed to make excuses, dissemble, and sneer at critics, and a compliant media—will tell us that because the deal won't be fully completed until June, providing insight into the details would upset the delicate negotiations that are to follow. Basically, they'll tell the congress and the American people, "Trust me."
Of course, it's the details that matter.
Looking toward the construction of a presidential library and a legacy, it appears that Barack Obama doesn't much care about details. John Kerry's job is to get the deal done at all cost, regardless of the consequences, regardless of the concerns of our allies, regardless of the reservations of a bipartisan congressional majority. Obama keeps telling us to "trust me" and then "trust me" some more.
Here's the core problem. Iran is completely, demonstrably, and unquestionably duplicitous and untrustworthy. Yet Barack Obama and his team of 2s will tell us they can verify Iran's actions, can uncover Iran's buried programs to build a nuclear weapon, and control the development of nuclear grade materials. They tell us that a "deal" will not lead to nuclear proliferation in the most unstable region of the world, that Iran is not focused on annihilating Israel and its Sunni adversaries, that the Mullahs are rational actors. All of this is untrue, but untruth is the daily currency of the Obama administration, so none of that comes as any surprise.
Richard Fernandez comments:
In a relatively short period, president Obama will place a very large bet. When he makes the deal a coin will be tossed. On the one hand he may have saved the world from a major war. On the other hand, he may have guaranteed it. No can know for sure while the coin is spinning in the air. We will only know when it lands. Such is the nature of risk in this world.If the consequences of Obama's "deal" with Iran were only an epitaph for Barack Obama, I wouldn't be concerned. With or without this "deal," history will judge his presidency harshly.
But surely everyone will agree that it is only prudent to examine the coin before it is tossed or to inspect the dice for loading. At the very least Congress and the Senate must look it over and kick the tires. There should be none of this nonsense about “trust me”. The more serious the outcome, the more finely you must weigh the odds. President Obama is hungry for a legacy. Let’s hope he remembers that an administration legacy is not the same as an epitaph.
But the consequences could be an epitaph for an entire region of the world. Hey, maybe that's been Obama's intention all along.
As I noted in the main body of this post, the Obama administration will, if a deal on principles with Iran actually happens, tell us that the details are not yet finalized and that it would prefer not to discuss any substantive matters at this stage. Of course, that will allow the Team of 2s further room to capitulate on the details—and the details are all that matter.
Jeffrey Goldberg defines a few important issues that each of us should look for, should a "deal" be announced in the next few days:
1) What will Saudi Arabia do in response to a deal? If the Saudis—who are already battling the Iranians on several fronts—actually head down the path toward nuclearization, then these negotiations will not have served the underlying purpose President Obama ascribed to them ...There's also the details of "verification," but realistically, that's only words on paper. Verification of Iran's nuclear ambitions has never worked and has been resisted by the Iranians at every stage. Words on paper will do nothing to make this deal safer or lower the risk of a bad deal.
2) If the underground enrichment facility at Fordow—which had been hidden from Western view for several years, and which the U.S. and Europe have repeatedly said needs to be closed—is allowed to run centrifuges, even to spin germanium and other elements that cannot be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, then doubt could legitimately be sown about the strength of this deal ...
3) The Iranians have never answered most of the questions put to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency about the possible military dimensions—the so-called PMDs—of their nuclear program. These questions must be answered before sanctions are even partially lifted. Otherwise, the West will never get answers.
4) The proposed speed of sanctions relief is, of course, something to watch carefully. The Iranians want immediate sanctions relief, but the West should only agree to a stately pace of sanctions-removal, predicated on 100-percent Iranian compliance on intrusive inspections, among other issues.
5) The largest question in my mind concerns the matter of break-out time—how long it would take for Iran, once it made a decision to violate the terms of a deal and go for full nuclearization, to actually make a deliverable weapon.
If Iran does walk away from a "deal" that by virtually all accounts is a capitulation on the part of the West, and therefore, a major win for the Mullahs, it will be because the Mullahs believe that Barack Obama does not have the will or the political support of foreign leaders to escalate sanctions to crushing levels. It's pretty obvious that the Mullahs also assess Obama's desire to launch a military strike to be vanishingly small. So ... Iran will win either way, making this deal uncertain. Sadly, the West loses either way, making the risks extremely high.