The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Iran Deal, Revisited

As he almost always does, Richard Fernandez provides us with a unique and interesting take on the current unrest in Iran. He credits Barack Obama's Iran Deal with inadvertently planting the seed for the current, increasingly violent and spreading unrest:
The Achilles' heel of the Obama deal was that the mullahs got the moolah. The rest got nothing. That fact would be crucial in the Iranian unrest of December 2017.

The Brookings Institution dryly observed: "to date, the nuclear diplomacy has provided no meaningful ‘trickle-down’ effect on Iran’s economy or its population at large. Expectations have been elevated by the maximalist rhetoric that Iranian leaders have utilized in describing the benefits of the JCPOA."

The short verdict of the Brookings piece is captured by its title: "Major beneficiaries of the Iran deal: The IRGC [The Revolutionary Guard] and Hezbollah."

Politically this had the effect of pouring gasoline on a fire, the gasoline, in this case, being money. Begin with desperation: per capita GDP was down due to the oil downturn and sanctions. Then throw in a match: the Obama bonanza captured by the Iranian Republican Guard and the Hezbollah.

The result: ka-boom. It's easy to understand why the average Iranian is so angry. He's been sent to war and driven to poverty by a theocratic elite living high off bacon from Washington. Obama's JCPOA had the ironic effect of destabilizing Iran by fueling the corruption of the ayatollahs and their retainers. Instead of uplifting the whole Iranian nation it sowed envy, resentment, greed, and corruption. Ultimately that spelled unrest.
Although it strains credulity to suggest that Obama and his team of foreign policy 2s purposely intended this result, it has happened nontheless.

Ironically, Obama's disastrous Iran deal may not have been as disastrous as I thought, if and only if it results in the overthrown of the Mullahs and the establishment of a secular democracy. That's highly unlikely because the Mullahs control all the power (and weapons), but who knows. What a wonderful present to the world if it were to happen.


In general, modern "revolutions" don't work out well. The regime eliminated is often replaced by something as bad or worse. In the case of Iran, the current regime is so awful that no matter what replaces it, it couldn't get much worse. I'm rooting for the Iranian people. Light the fires.


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, key figures (John Kerry, Ben Rhodes) from the Obama administration and their trained hamsters in the media are suggesting that the United States shouldn't take a side in all of this (e.g., the hamsters at CNN suggested that in speaking forcefully in favor of the Iranian protesters, Donald Trump was "putting his thumb on the scale"). At first, such statements are astounding, given that our choice is between a totalitarian theocracy that is inimical to U.S. interests and something else that couldn't be any worse. But then one realizes that their statements have been made to protect Obama himself, given that he did exactly what they are now proposing in 2009. His silence and their support of it was shameful.

Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh comment:
As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

In the coming weeks, many in the commentariat will advise the Trump administration to remain silent and stay on the sidelines, as the Obama administration did in 2009. They will recommend that it is best to let the Iranian drama play itself out. If American officials weigh in, the argument goes, the regime would brand its detractors as agents of a foreign power.

Such stale prescriptions miss the point that Iranians are looking toward America to support their struggle. Democratic dissidents always do so. In that regard, Iranians are no different from non-Muslim dissidents from the former Soviet Union to communist China, who have struggled against tyranny and ardently welcomed American and European support.

Barack Obama has been rightly castigated for his silence during the Green Revolution. President Trump is right not to follow his predecessor’s discredited path ...