The implementation of the Iran nuclear deal might be old story in our second-by-second news cycle. But unless President Obama’s successor sees fit to reverse course, it will be the centerpiece of American foreign policy for decades to come. That is, if we are here that long.
Naturally, President Obama hails the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal as a triumph for American diplomacy and declares that “Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.” Somewhere in the seventh circle of Hell, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Kim Il-sung, and Kim Jong-il are enjoying a hearty laugh.
And where exactly is that 98% of enriched uranium been shipped? Russia? That’ll make me sleep better at night. But even if that enriched uranium is secure, Iran still retains the right to enrich uranium. Mind you, it’s a right that we are unprepared to bestow upon South Korea, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s old neighbor across the Demilitarized Zone. As Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2014, “It isn’t fun being friends with America these days.”
But it is sure a whole lot of fun to be an enemy of America these days. And very profitable. When you’re trying to become the dominant nation in the Middle East, the advance of $100 billion into your treasury sure can prove helpful. Never mind that Iran still remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is but a minor detail to the Obama Administration. After all, Iran has been so nice in releasing the Americans it has been holding in captivity. Well, most of those Americans. But so what if we didn’t get everybody out. Obama has taken to calling Robert Levinson Bob, just like Hillary referred to the murdered American Ambassador Christopher Stevens as Chris.
And what made Iran’s newfound niceness possible? Why the Iran nuclear deal, of course. As President Obama put it this past Sunday:
I want to also point out that by working with Iran on this nuclear deal, we were better able to address other issues. When our sailors in the Persian Gulf accidentally strayed into Iranian waters that could have sparked a major international incident, some folks here in Washington rushed to declare that it was the start of another hostage crisis. Instead, we worked directly with the Iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours. This brings me to a second major development — several Americans unjustly detained by Iran are finally coming home.
So because of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran was able to free our Navy sailors (after parading them on state TV with their arms behind their back and forcing the commander of the two seized boats to make a statement blaming America for the incident) and free our hostages. How very nice of them.
Think about this for a moment. We just didn’t exchange our hostages for Iranians who violated the sanctions. We exchanged our hostages for the Iran nuclear deal itself. A President with backbone would not have said “by working with Iran on this nuclear deal, we were better able to address other issues.” So long as those “other issues” involved either American civilians or military personnel in Iranian captivity, there should have been nothing to discuss with Iran, never mind a nuclear deal.
Yes, it is true that President Obama will be out of office in less than a year. But that is hardly any assurance. We know Hillary Clinton would maintain the status quo. Yet Donald Trump wouldn’t be much of an improvement. He was no opponent of negotiating with the Iranian regime when he called upon President Bush to enter into direct negotiations with then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007. Trump went on to praise the Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad as “smart like a fox.”
While Trump derided the prisoner swap this past weekend, it didn’t prevent him from taking credit, telling Tea Party activists in South Carolina, “So I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might have had something to do with it.” I hate to break it to Trump, but Iran was only going to release those Americans once the Iran deal was official. Trump could have whistled Dixie for all it mattered.
Should Trump be elected, it’s quite possible he could take a look at the Iran nuclear deal and conclude it isn’t worth re-negotiating. Even if he does try to re-negotiate the deal, I suspect the Mullahs will show the world that Trump’s negotiation skills aren’t what they are cracked up to be. In which case, it would demonstrate that Trump doesn’t understand that no deal is better than a bad deal.
But for now the Iran nuclear deal is solely the legacy of President Obama. The realization of this deal is not a triumph of diplomacy, but of desperation. Obama didn’t seek the best agreement with Iran, he was seeking any agreement with Iran. That no deal is better than a bad deal is evidently lost on him as well. But anything to win a second Nobel Peace Prize, right? The Iran nuclear deal might bring peace to President Obama, but it will bring anything but to the Middle East and America will once again be right in the middle of it whether it wants to or not. That’s what happens when desperation triumphs.
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