On some level, it is not surprising that Barack Obama, son of an anti-American, anti-Western Muslim, and John Kerry, grandson of an apostate Jew, would empower the radical Islamic State of Iran with a nuclear weapons agreement that weakens the United States and the free world and endangers the very existence of the State of Israel. It was equally obvious that an agreement empowering Iran and guaranteeing its production of nuclear weapons and continued propagation of terror would be signed eventually. The only uncertainty was when, precisely, Iran would determine that it had extracted enough concessions from its interlocutors so as to declare victory.
Obama is no fool, although he does take his audience and his supporters for fools. It is hard to determine whether he believes his own rhetoric. Few – especially Iran – believe that the agreement will “prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” as Obama opined. Even fewer should believe that “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off.” Only the willfully delusional will argue that Obama’s folly has “stopped the spread of nuclear weapons” in the Middle East. (On the contrary, it will jumpstart Saudi Arabia’s drive for a nuclear capability and perhaps even Kuwait’s and the Emirates – as none of those countries will wish to rely, and sensibly so, on America’s promises.)
Perhaps, most egregiously, is this whopper: “the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.” These deceptive words mask the sad reality that the agreement actually requires 24 day notice before any inspection takes place, and even then Iran has the right to refuse the inspection and refer disputes to a committee for endless discussion of the matter. Imagine, for a moment, if the police had to obtain a search warrant from a judge and then had to give 24 days’ notice to the suspects! That is ludicrous when applied to the search for contraband like illegal guns or narcotics; it is positively obscene when proposed for the search for nuclear weapons.
Add to that the sanctions relief – sanctions that will never be snapped back – and that will furnish Iran with billions of dollars and bolster the Iranian terror regime that will foment worldwide terror and murder an untold number of Jews, Americans, Westerners, Christians, non-Muslims – and many Muslims as well; the arms embargo that will be lifted sooner rather than later; and the absurd reality that Iran has violated each agreement it has signed in the past and effectively employs the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya that permits it to lie and dissemble in order to spread the jihad against all infidels – and this agreement is an epic catastrophe in the making.
So how did it happen? If Obama is not a fool, what is he? Venal? Not necessarily. Only dupes will believe that the United States negotiated from a “position of strength.” Hah – only Iran ever walked away from the negotiations, and several times, and Iran easily played an American negotiating team desperate for a deal at any price. Following the pattern of Obama’s dealings with Syria, all of his red lines vanished during the negotiations with Iran (and Syria is widely believed to still possess chemical weapons, despite its assurances). So what is it?
Oddly, Obama has never been coy about his real goals. His supporters, though, especially Jewish liberals but others as well, have intentionally blinded themselves to those goals and satisfied themselves with empty rhetoric, toothy smiles, and invitations to lame Chanuka parties and Pesach seders (some even held not on Chanuka or Pesach).
It is this: in 2008, Obama was criticized when he commented that President Reagan was a “transformational President,” violating the liberal code to which he otherwise adheres that one should never praise a Republican for anything. His critics were mistaken; Obama wasn’t praising Reagan, he was just making an observation. Reagan was a transformational President in ways that Obama disapproved but Obama saw himself in that same mode – as a president who would fundamentally transform the United States.
At the risk of subjecting myself to the same criticism, I will state the obvious: Obama has succeeded in that objective and has become a transformational President, but in so doing has grievously harmed the United States internally and externally. He has transformed the domestic scene by creating entire new classes of dependents, expanding enormously the welfare state, forcing millions (and in coming years, millions more) on to government funded health care, and subsidizing a considerable underclass of unemployed and underemployed Americans. Globally, Obama has transformed America into an unreliable ally, an adversary to longstanding friends and a follower in a world without a powerful leader. The international field has been left open for bad actors to exploit – and they have, gleefully. His projection of American power is minimalistic and antiseptic, designed to inflict enough damage to quiet those Americans who believe in the goodness and morality of the USA and are therefore supporters of a robust use of force but never enough power to actually win a war, accomplish any strategic goal or intimidate America’s traditional enemies.
Worse, while America’s friends – Israel, Britain, France and others have been disrespected and trampled upon, and America’s allies – like Saudi Arabia – disregarded and slighted, America’s enemies for generations – Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and others – have been revived, resuscitated and emboldened. Obama must believe that those countries were antagonistic to the US because of some personal pique on the part of all his predecessors, the much despised Yankee imperialism, or some other American failing. Apparently, it has not dawned on Obama that those countries were enemies of the United States because of their corrupt ideologies, depraved and repressive regimes, and the absence of any shared values or interests. All his predecessors were therefore wrong, misguided and short-sighted; hence, the unctuous absurdity that he uttered: that the Iran pact “has achieved something that decades of animosity has not,” as if the “animosity” was just imprudent and the quest to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons repugnant and jingoistic.
It is clear that the status quo was working, that sanctions were taking a toll, and that Iran was suffering. It was also clear that Obama always opposed the sanctions (he resigned himself to claiming credit for them only when Congress passed the legislation overwhelmingly) and that military action by the US against Iran was never seriously contemplated by Obama. Indeed, a variety of Israelis have noted that Obama has been more worried about an Israeli preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program than about Iran’s nuclear program. Thus did Obama forfeit all American leverage, if he ever intended to use it.
It is crunch time for American Jews, especially liberal Democrats in Congress and their Jewish supporters. The Iran deal must be stopped, and all means of pressure from Jewish organizations, donors, individuals must be brought to bear. I don’t want to hear how Charles Schumer is Israel’s “guardian” if he votes to give a nuclear bomb to Iran, nor am I interested in Torah musings from Cory Booker. Kirsten Gillibrand must be told that this will make or break her relationship with her Jewish constituents. G-d bless NJ’s Bob Menendez who has endured great hardship and been persecuted by the Obama administration in an effort to silence him – and has remained steadfast in his opposition to this sellout. AIPAC must use all its influence and not worry about future access; future access will not matter once Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, and perhaps not even if they are given billions of dollars to foment more terror.
We should also crack down on politicians who claim to have “Israel’s back.” People are stabbed in the back by those who betray them, and everyone walks in back of a coffin. Forget the back, the clichés and the empty promises. I pray that liberal Jews will not seek face-saving measures to avoid confronting the harsh reality that is before us – the betrayal of Israel through the reversal of three decades of US policy.
But none of this is only about Israel. It has been US policy for decades to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by rogue states; for the first time, under Obama’s failed leadership, the United States is birthing and subsidizing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a rogue regime, and the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. It is time to ask the question: are Jews committed more to the Democratic Party or to their identity as Jews? It should be an easy question to answer – but I recognize that for so many, it is not.
Much has been made of the failure of the US negotiators to secure the release of four American citizens currently being held prisoner in Iran on trumped-up charges. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if they are not released within a few months – and not surprised at all if they will be used as a bargaining chip by Iran, with or without administration connivance. As in: Iran declaring next month that the four will be freed if Congress approves the agreement, thereby cynically placing the onus of their continued captivity on Congress rather than on Iran. It is an unsubtle form of blackmail.
It sounds trite to argue, as many have, that Obama is doing this for his “legacy.” Jimmy Carter also had a legacy, as did Neville Chamberlain. Indeed, we should recall now Churchill’s stirring rebuke to Chamberlain when he returned with “Herr Hitler’s” signature on that infamous piece of paper: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Recall as well Chamberlain’s pathetic excuse uttered on his deathbed: “Everything would have been all right if Hitler hadn’t lied to me.”
More than seventy-five years later, the naïve Chamberlain again walks among us. The Churchill’s of our age are being marginalized and lambasted, just like the original was. We are left with the inevitable results of a failed presidency that has remade America in a way that threatens the American dream and the stability of the world. Obama’s peculiar blend of arrogance, messianism, naiveté, and disdain for traditional American leadership has brought Iran to its feet and America to its knees.
It was all, so sadly, predictable. Can it be reversed and stopped in time? Once again, the Jewish people are alone, with the world community acquiescing in arming our most bitter enemies with genocidal weapons. If that does not serve to concentrate our minds during these Three Weeks as we commemorate the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash and other calamities in Jewish history, and doesn’t induce us to examine our behavior and repent, then what will? If we do not realize now that we are living in historic times and on the verge of great transformations, then when will we?
P.S. For a sobering view of the hubris and foibles of politicians and their grand pronouncements, see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TcbU5jAavw
The common denominator? Wendy Sherman, lead US negotiator with Iran, also led the negotiations with North Korea.