I got to see President Obama’s response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech while I was eating lunch. I’m surprised I managed to keep my food down.
Obama spoke to the media in the Oval Office before meeting with new Defense Secretary Ash Carter. While the headlines from Obama’s response was that Bibi offered “nothing new” and had “no viable alternatives” to the administration’s present course of action, I was struck by something else Obama said in response to a question from Julie Pace of the AP about the appropriateness of Netanyahu’s speech. Here is the part that caught my attention:
And I think it’s important for us to stay focused on the problem at hand. And the specific problem that is being debated right now is not whether we trust the Iranian regime or not — we don’t trust them. It’s not whether Iran engages in destabilizing activities — everybody agrees with that. The central question is, how can we stop them from getting a nuclear weapon.
And what we know is that if we’re able to get a deal, not only do we cut off all the various pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, but we also know that we’ll have a verification mechanism and an inspection mechanism where if they cheat and if they engage in a covert program we are far more likely to see it in time to do something about it.
So by Obama’s own admission he doesn’t trust Iran, but yet he insists on negotiating this deal because it has a verification and a inspection mechanism. Well, if Iran hasn’t been forthcoming with the IAEA then how would any nuclear deal with the Obama Administration make them any more trustworthy than they are now? Either the Obama Administration trusts Iran to act in good faith or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t then it can’t expect Israel, the Gulf Arab states and the American citizenry to go along with any deal struck with Iran.
Ronald Reagan used to say, “Trust, but verify.” Obama is saying, “Don’t trust, but verify.”
Well I say if you don’t trust, don’t negotiate.
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