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

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

"Made Things Worse"

Slate is not known for its love of conservatives. It's writers lionized Barack Obama and believed that everything his administration touched turned to gold. They consistently papered over the many scandals that were woven into the fabric of the Obama era, claiming that his years were "scandal free."

Now, in a lengthy analysis of the Iran Deal, Obama's "signature" foreign policy "achievement," Joshua Keating in Slate states: "I supported Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. Now I think it may have made things worse."

Gee. Ya think?

Those of us who are on record as strong opponents of the Iran deal since its inception, have argued repeated that Obama and his foreign policy Team of 2s, acted out of extreme naivete or abject stupidity when they cut the deal. It is unverifiable, and far more important, unable to reign in Iran's nuclear ambitions, not to mention its hegemonic intent in the Middle East and beyond. Obama and his people were fools for entering into the deal.

Keating writes:
Obama always made clear that an agreement on nuclear weapons wouldn’t necessarily change Iran’s larger pattern of behavior or that of its rivals. “If they don’t change at all, we’re still better off having the deal,” he argued. Still, he suggested that the diplomatic opening provided by the deal could change the dynamics of the region. “It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shias weren’t intent on killing each other,” he told the New Yorker’s David Remnick in 2014. “And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

This is not what happened on either side of the Middle East’s sectarian divide. Instead, the deal has more often contributed to escalating tensions. In retrospect, this was foreseeable: Iran was perfectly capable of projecting power across the region with or without a nuclear arsenal. As for its rivals, they never trusted Iran’s assurances and saw warming relations between Tehran and Washington as a new and potentially even greater threat.

Iran is an Islamofascist state with all of the problems and threatb that implied. To enter into a "deal" with such an entity is risky. To craft a very bad deal with such an entity is something that only idiots or incompetents would do. Obama entered into a very bad deal.

Rather than moderating its behavior, Iran has, if anything, become more aggressive in the region. It's worth noting that since the election of Donald Trump, Iran's aggressiveness against the United States [think: Obama era U.S. sailors captured and made to kneel for the cameras] in the region has abated significantly. I wonder why?

Keating continues:
I fully supported the Iran deal, and the trade-offs involved, in 2015. In the face of sustained attack from the current administration, I have consistently defended it. But just because the deal was struck for the best of reasons, and just because Trump is against it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t face retroactive scrutiny. An honest account of the consequences of the deal, and the assumptions that led to it, is necessary if we are to have better policies going forward.

No country in the Middle East should have nuclear weapons. No country in the world should have nuclear weapons. The risks are far too high, and the slow and steady work of nonproliferation must continue. Without downplaying the risks in any way, it’s still fair to say that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, it probably wouldn’t use it, just as other nuclear powers have not. It’s a very real, but theoretical, danger. Nuclear weapons have done far less damage in the last 70 years than the wars in Syria and Yemen have in just the last two. Placing nuclear nonproliferation above all else is not always the right call and may have been motivated by an overly fatalistic view of the region.

To his credit, Keating has the humility to get past his progressive ideology and take a hard look at results. Undoing the damage that Obama's Team of 2s did in the Middle East will take a generation, if it can be undone at all. A good place to start is with the Iran deal.