Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Iran Deal and Obama’s Fatally Misguided View of the World

By David French — August 21, 2015

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

It’s increasingly clear that the key terms of the Iran deal — the terms that deal in any way with verifying Iranian nuclear activity, past and present — are a joke. As the text of a side agreement released released by the AP yesterday confirms, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will actually rely on Iran to inspect itself at the crucial Parchin nuclear site, providing “mutually agreed” upon photos, videos, and environmental samples to IAEA monitors. And the deal’s broader monitoring regime eschews “anytime, anywhere” inspections in favor of a process that provides Iran written notice of requested access to suspicious sites, followed by a weeks-long dispute-resolution process that still won’t guarantee such access is granted.

Put plainly, under the terms of the deal, Iran makes promises that it does not have to keep. In exchange, it receives sanctions relief, access to international arms markets, and the ability to build ballistic missiles. This isn’t a nuclear agreement, it’s an economic treaty — an economic treaty almost perfectly designed to advance President Obama’s very particular worldview.

If more than six years of Obama’s foreign policy have taught us anything, it’s that he’s thoroughly adopted the academic Left’s view of America’s international troubles — the view that such troubles are largely America’s own fault. Our Islamic-supremacist enemies, this thinking goes, exist because we and our allies have marginalized the dissenting, “authentic” voices of the Middle East in favor of propping up oppressive, unrepresentative secular dictators in the region. By switching sides from such “establishment” dictators to the “authentic” voice of the region’s people, we can bring these dissenters into the international community, deprive terrorists of recruits, and usher in a new era of international relations. The truly extreme holdouts — the “tiny few” who are irredeemable terrorists — can then eventually be dealt with by international law enforcement.

Obama’s foreign policy fits this thinking to a tee: In Libya, he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped depose Moammar Qaddafi by transforming allied squadrons into the jihadist militias’ air force. In Egypt, Obama and Clinton quickly threw longtime American ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus and wrapped both arms around the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government, sending American taxpayer-funded F-16s and M1 Abrams tanks to Egypt even as the Brotherhood violated the Camp David accords and forged closer ties with Hamas. In Gaza, the administration has consistently condemned Israeli acts of self-defense (though Israel uses tactics often more restrained than those dictated by America’s rules of engagement) and presented cease-fire proposals more in line with Hamas’s demands than Israel’s needs. In Syria, the administration came dangerously close to deploying American pilots as al-Qaeda’s air force to help topple the Assad regime.

The pattern keeps repeating itself. When it comes to Mideast unrest, the administration repeatedly backs the more Islamist “street” over the more secular establishment. But what if the Islamic supremacists are the establishment? Then, the administration stands with the Islamists. American arms flowed to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, but deliveries were frozen for months after the world’s largest political protests helped eject the Brotherhood from power, replacing it with a government dedicated to fighting jihadists. Similarly, America stood by as Iran’s mullahs crushed the Green Revolution, missing a chance to depose a decades-old enemy regime. Obama believes there can’t be peace until the Islamists are mainstreamed.

Yet the president refuses to understand the supremacists. They don’t want to join the Family of Nations, they want to be the Family of Nations. No one claims America’s Middle Eastern policy has been perfect. We’ve made our share of mistakes in the region. But the theology of Islamic supremacy goes back to the founding of Islam, and its list of grievances predates the discovery of the New World, much less American “meddling” abroad.

Obama woos, and the mullahs laugh. In fact, they don’t even disguise their hatred of the United States as they chant “Death to America” and vow to continue their policies of terror and aggression. Obama is saving his most desperate gamble — the greatest test of his worldview — for the end of his presidency. He wants to mainstream the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the hopes that they will subsequently mainstream themselves, in essence becoming a religiously devout, Muslim version of the famous “Coexist” bumper sticker.

Thus, Iran’s unenforceable promises aren’t truly part of the nuclear deal — they’re the pretext for normalizing relations, for embracing Iran in the hopes that it will embrace us back. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been ostracized and marginalized. Like any good university leftist, Obama wants to be inclusive. And for a time it just might look like Iran returns our embrace — right until we feel the knife in our back.

— David French is an attorney, a staff writer at National Review, and a veteran of the Iraq War.

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