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

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Deal Killer

Here's what I wrote in July, 2015 after the Obama administration concluded what it called an "historic" deal with Iran:
One of the most stunning aspects of the new "deal" that Barack Obama and his foreign policy Team of 2s have established with Iran is the fact that relatively few Democrats are willing to support it with enthusiasm. At best, they grudgingly state that there are serious flaws in the agreement, that Iran cannot be trusted, that verification will be difficult or impossible and that the "deal" provides a direct avenue for Iran to become a nuclear power.
One of the reasons that the deal remained just that and not a treaty is that Barack Obama knew a ratification vote in the Senate would fail. Not because of the GOP, but because Dems would have voted against it. That should have told him something, but nah.

I continued my discussion:
As example is an article written by Jeffrey Goldberg in the progressive magazine, The Atlantic. He begins his article thusly:
The theocratic regime that rules Iran—a regime that is a committed and proficient sponsor of terrorism, according to John Kerry’s State Department—will be more powerful tomorrow than it is today, thanks to the agreement it has just negotiated with the Obama administration, America’s European allies, and two U.S. adversaries as well.

This sad conclusion is unavoidable. The lifting of crippling sanctions, which will come about as part of the nuclear deal struck in Vienna, means that at least $150 billion, a sum Barack Obama first invoked in May, will soon enough flow to Tehran. With this very large pot of money, the regime will be able to fund both domestic works and foreign adventures in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere.
After discussing (in worthwhile detail) all the reasons why the "deal" is bad, Goldberg amazingly concludes that it's the only alternative. Using somewhat muted language he, like many progressives, is transformed by fantasy. In essence, repeating the mantra that has become a staple for Obama supporters, What's the alternative, war? If you're against this deal, you're in favor of war with Iran. That's abject nonsense, but no matter, it's their narrative, and they're sticking to it.

When pressed, many of this president's ardent supporters do what they often do when confronted with one of the Obama administration's many failures, scandals, or examples of poor judgement—they lie.

Here's Jim Geraughty on the subject:
We now know how the Obama administration and its friends will sell the deal with Iran: lie.

Here’s Representative Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia, telling MSNBC why he’ll vote for the Iran deal: “Thanks to the Obama administration’s negotiations, Iran’s nuclear program will be under lock, key and camera 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The eyes of the international community are on every centrifuge, every ounce of uranium, in all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Completely false: “UN inspectors can demand access to nuclear facilities on Iran military sites, but they aren’t immediate or even guaranteed. Any inspections at those sites would need to be approved by a joint commission composed of one member from each of the negotiating parties. The process for approving those inspections could take as many as 24 days.”
Dishonesty is, of course, the stock in trade for the Obama administration, and as congressional debate heats up, we can expect much more of it. The sad reality is that many low information voters will believe the lies.

Despite Barack Obama's preposterous claims about the quality of the "deal" he and his Team of 2s have signed with Iran, the bottom line is really quite simple—the United States gains nothing from the "deal," allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia lose big, and Iran, Syria, Hezballah, Hamas and other terror entities share a major win.

An uncomfortable silence has descended among past supporters of this president's policies, and most thoughtful democrats appear uneasy. Criticism from Obama's opposition grows by the hour. The Wall Street Journal comments:
Start with the inspections. Contrary to Mr. Obama, the IAEA’s enhanced monitoring isn’t permanent but limited to between 15 and 25 years depending on the process. Also contrary to his “where necessary, when necessary” claim, inspectors will only be allowed to ask permission of the Iranians to inspect suspected sites, and “such requests will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities.”

If Iran objects, as it will, “the Agency may request access” (our emphasis), and Iran can propose “alternative arrangements” to address the concerns. If that fails, as it will, the dispute gets kicked upstairs, first to a “Joint Commission,” then to a Ministerial review, then to an “Advisory Board,” then to the U.N. Security Council—with each stop on the bureaucratic road taking weeks or months.

This is far worse than the U.S.-Soviet arms agreements, in which the U.S. could protest directly to Moscow. Iran now has an international bureaucratic guard to deflect and deter U.S. or IAEA concerns.

The deal places sharp limits on Iran’s current use of first-generation IR-1 centrifuges. But it allows hundreds of those centrifuges to remain in the heavily defended Fordo facility, where they are supposed to remain idle but could be reactivated at the flick of a switch. The deal also permits Iran to build and test advanced centrifuges. This means Iran can quickly field a highly sophisticated, and easily dispersed, enrichment capability when the agreement expires.

All of this assumes that Iran will honor its commitments, notwithstanding its long record of cheating. Mr. Obama’s answer here is that he or his successor can reimpose sanctions, but that will be a tough sell once sanctions relief kicks in over 12 to 16 months and a pro-Iran commercial lobby resurfaces in Europe, China and Russia. A committee of the eight signatories would have to vote to restore sanctions. “Snap-back” is a mirage.

Perhaps most dismaying is that this nuclear deal also lifts sanctions on Iran’s conventional weapons’ trade in five years, and ballistic missiles in eight. Missiles are the most effective way of delivering a nuclear weapon—including to the U.S.—and as recently as last week Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey warned Congress that “under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.”

The U.S. appears to have caved on this point at the last minute after ultimatums from Tehran. This will be especially upsetting to our regional allies, which will have to cope with a newly empowered Iran flush with cash from sanctions relief.

It's appears that this "deal" has more to do with Barack Obama's ego and legacy than it does with any real attempt at dealing with the world's largest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism. It represents a combination of irresponsible, short sited decisions, surprising (some might say, cynical) naivete, and gross capitulation. It sets the stage for bad things long after Barack Obama leaves office.
But today, both Dem and GOP elites tell us that the sky is falling because Donald Trump abrogated what can only be characterized as a very, very bad deal with a country that is our avowed enemy. They tell us that we need a defined replacement "deal" before leaving a bad deal. Unless every T is crossed and every i is dotted, keep the deal!

Uhh. No.

Better to cripple Iran with sanctions now than to let them proceed toward nukes and regional threats. Better to fire a shot across their bow today, than wait until they and their proxies (e.g., Hezballah) become stronger and more lethal. Donald Trump did the right thing. Unlike the GOP and Dem elites, he is unwilling to kick the can down a road that keeps getting shorter by the year. And just possibly, the ensuing pain just might cause Iran to return to the negotiating table where the West can achieve a much better "deal."

In the short term, it's likely that bad things will happen as pressure on Iran mounts. But it's a mistake to indulge in the magical thinking that assumes that that the Obama "deal" would somehow contain Iran's regional ambitions, make the country's leaders more moderate, or derail their efforts to build nukes. It's time to get real with Iran and treat them like the enemy they are.