Obama’s Munich Moment
On Saturday night, in a truly obvious attempt to deflect attention from his dismal domestic problems, Obama announced to the world an “interim” deal over Iran’s nuclear aspirations. It should also be mentioned that this announcement was hardly worthy of interrupting the Saturday night broadcast line ups. On Sunday, unless you are one of the adoring fans of anything Obama says or does, the fallout and analysis has not been exactly supportive. Just like his proposed “attack” on Syria over their use of chemical weapons, Obama may have succeeded in bringing together Democrats and Republicans more than solving perhaps the single biggest threat to world peace- a nuclear Iran.
In effect, this deal negates years of American policy including his own alleged policy which he insisted upon in his debate against Mitt Romney. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is given a temporary halt although the means to continue enrichment in the future is left intact. As Charles Krauthammer noted with regards to Syria’s chemical weapons, the first thing those inspectors did was secure and dismantle the means to make future chemical weapons before destroying the existing stockpiles. The Iranian deal leaves alone Iran’s means to enrich uranium in the future. In addition, certain facilities are left alone and not a single ounce of currently enriched uranium leaves Iran. In exchange, we get a promise that Iran will try to be more transparent with international inspectors.
The Iranians get some sanctions removed or relaxed and access to certain frozen assets. This is an economic boom to the flailing Iranian economy which is flailing because of the sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to do exactly what they were doing. As Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz notes, it was those sanctions, not a new president in Iran, that brought them to the negotiation table in the first place. Thus, it makes no sense to remove the very leverage you used to extract that minimal concession- the negotiation table- from Iran. It is international diplomacy and negotiations done backwards.
There are six UN Security Council resolutions demanding that Iran cease their uranium enrichment program. This deal codifies the policy that Iran can enrich uranium now and in the future in direct conflict with those resolutions. Lest anyone need reminding, it took an incredible amount of energy and arm-twisting and hand-holding to get those resolutions passed in the first place. As long as there are countries like Russia and China on the Security Council- two countries whose foreign policies are not exactly aligned with those of the United States- the chances of future sanctions is exceedingly slim. Already, the Chinese are yelling “We told you so” from the mountaintops as they scheme to conduct business transactions previously forbidden and gain access to Iran’s vast oil and natural gas reserves. The current set of sanctions took decades to construct and enforce to the point that Iran was feeling the heat. In one fell swoop, Obama undid the diplomatic work of four previous presidents.
This deal amounts to paying Iran for negotiating. In 1994, another Democratic president named Bill Clinton supposedly resolved the problem of a potential nuclear North Korea. Bill Clinton was light years ahead of Obama when it came to a grasp of international relations and he was certainly less naive than Obama in this area. Yet, he got hoodwinked by a two-bit totalitarian regime in Pyongyang. Does Obama believe any better than the fanatics in Tehran?
What is most egregious in this instance is the collateral damage this deal causes. In North Korea, they developed a nuclear weapon, but their nuclear capability did not and does not upset the balance of power in Asia. That is not the case with Iran. Despite the touting of this deal and interrupting Saturday night television, perhaps the only three people who think this is the bees knees are the Iranians, John Kerry and Barack Obama. The Israelis feel less safe today than they did yesterday as do the Jordanians, the Saudis and other Middle East regimes. Just as he may have united Democrats and Republicans in their opposition to the deal, Obama may have done the impossible- made Israel and Saudi Arabia unlikely allies. They are brought together equally by their shared fear of Iran as they are at their sense of letdown from the United States.
The bottom line is that this administration has made so many mistakes in this region that all the drones will make little difference in the end. There was the 30,000 troops for Afghanistan, a total far less than what military experts said was required, only to then set an 18-month deadline on their use. He withdrew troops from Iraq despite attempts by that country to keep a contingent there. He threw a trusted ally under the bus in Egypt, then embraced an Islamist tyrant that allowed jihadi elements a foothold in Egypt. Libya is a bigger mess today than it was before Khaddafi fell. And while Lurch runs around trying to get the Israelis and Palestinians to talk, he has been rebuffed numerous times. Then there is that entire debacle in Syria and his “red lines being crossed” that turned out to be words in the end. This is simply another example of a fumbling, naive fool dabbling in foreign policy except this is a dangerous region and Iran is a dangerous actor. And last but certainly not least- Benghazi.
This deal, besides undoing years of diplomatic efforts to impose sanctions that likely are not coming back, complicates the entire situation in Syria. As the United States pivots towards Iran, any “pressure” the US places on that country regarding their involvement in Syria will lead to a collapse of this entire enterprise except Iran will be 6 months closer to a nuclear bomb. It should also be noted that this deal in no way addresses their ballistic missile development and capabilities, nor does it mention Iran’s financial and materiel support for terrorism in the region and around the world. Kerry’s response was “first things first.” Really? So, after Iran gives up their nuclear capabilities in Kerry’s Utopian world, they are going to negotiate over terrorism?
This deal is appeasement plain and simple and no different than Neville Chamberlain’s handing Czechoslovakia to Hitler to “buy time.” In this case, Obama agrees to loosen sanctions and unfreeze Iranian assets for an agreement to negotiate. Along the way, this action, and this pivot away from the more moderate Arab states along with the only democracy in the Middle East, has handed the balance of power to a state that sponsors terror, has shown no tendency to relinquish their nuclear program, and that calls for the elimination of Israel. It is bad enough that Obama has screwed up this country, but now he seems intent on screwing up a volatile region of the world also. So, Obama buys six months and for a few days attention is deflected from his domestic failures. Once again, Barack Obama the politician has his day. What this country and the world needs is fewer politicians and more leaders. Sadly, that leadership is not coming from the current occupant of the White House.