President Joe Biden has followed in President Barack Obama’s footsteps in rewarding Iranian bad behavior with carrots rather than punishing it with sticks. Biden is desperately seeking a new Iranian nuclear deal despite prevarication by Tehran and continued troublemaking in the Middle East. Worse still, after crafting a bad deal, the Biden administration is reportedly going to attempt to avoid congressional oversight by advertising it as a continuation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that President Donald Trump walked away from.
Since 1974, Democrats have repeatedly shown themselves to be weak sisters on foreign policy and national security, but Biden is proving to be the worst of the lot. At least he is consistent. As a member of the post-Watergate Senate class of 1974, he was a leader in selling out our South Vietnamese allies by refusing further funding of the Vietnam War, an act that ensured the fall of Saigon. Democrats were instrumental in engineering the communist Sandinista takeover in Nicaragua in 1979 and watched from the sidelines as radical Islamists took power in Iran. Meanwhile, an emboldened Soviet Union felt free to invade Afghanistan.
Under Clinton, the United States made some toothless efforts to stop al-Qaeda in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings and the repeated attacks on American citizens overseas. This set the scene for 9/11. Obama’s feeble response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on its own people emboldened the Russian- and Iranian-backed Assad regime to perpetrate continued atrocities on fellow Syrians; these victims included not just those who were fighting for freedom but innocents who happened to get in the way as well.
Now, we have Biden. Not content with having engineered the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, he wants to engineer a return to the lifting of sanctions against a regime in Tehran that has repeatedly shown contempt for our country and its leaders and flouted international norms. Let’s take a moment to review Iran’s actions since Biden became commander-in-chief. First, Iranians have continued to meddle in the affairs of the struggling democracy in Iraq. Their malign influence has been instrumental in ensuring that a stable Iraqi government has not been formed since 2011. The only contribution that Biden has made in the struggle against Islamic extremism has been the drone strike that killed the incompetent al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. Zawahiri would not have been there to begin with but for Biden’s craven abandonment of Afghanistan. Iran’s ayatollahs have also created mischief in places as diverse as Syria and Yemen. While indirectly negotiating with the United States over a nuclear agreement, the Iranians have tried to hijack unarmed U.S. drone reconnaissance ships on the high seas. Tehran has demonstrated no good faith whatsoever.
I have not talked to a single foreign policy analyst who believes that Tehran will abandon its aspirations to gain nuclear weapons under a renewed version of JPCOA. It will do what it has always done, which is lie, deceive, and impede legitimate inspections of its nuclear facilities while our feckless president trolls for a Nobel prize for his efforts to “stop proliferation.” He is neither respected nor feared in Tehran, and that is very dangerous.
Contrast this with Trump’s performance. In response to blatant meddling by Tehran in Iraq, he ordered the killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s alleged war criminal commander of the Quds Force, and threatened worse when the Iranians retaliated with a missile attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. Then, things got quiet until the 2020 election.
Trump was no warmonger while in office. He attempted to make peace with North Korea; when rebuffed by its leader, Trump wisely gave the effort up. Conversely, when insulted by Iran, Biden has upped the ante in inducements against the advice of the Israelis and other Middle Eastern players. The Iranians understand firmness. When they unwisely fired on U.S. forces during the Iran–Iraq war, then-President Ronald Reagan unleashed Operation Praying Mantis, taking out several Iranian military installations in the Persian Gulf. In contrast, Biden appears more than willing to reinforce failure.
Worse still, some observers, such as former State Department negotiator Matthew Zweig, believe that the president plans to circumvent congressional oversight of any agreement by claiming that he is merely overturning the executive orders negated by Trump when the former president pulled out of the original JCPOA. If the Democratic congressional leaders go along with that sham, they will be abrogating the oversight role of Congress in foreign policy. Whether one agrees with former Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to buck Trump on the Jan. 6, 2021, imbroglio, he upheld the independence of the legislative branch. It is doubtful if current Vice President Kamala Harris would challenge Biden even if she grasped the seriousness of the issue.
Iran is not a partner of the United States. It is a sworn enemy. It despises our values and is determined to become a nuclear power. Negotiating with it is folly, but folly has become the norm for this administration.
Gary Anderson lectures on Alternative Analysis at the graduate level.