Dershowitz: Iran Deal Could Be a 'Chamberlain Moment'
Harvard professor and noted civil rights and international law expert Alan Dershowitz criticized the nuclear deal with Iran sharply on Sunday, saying that it "could become a Chamberlain moment" for President Barack Obama.
"I don't think that this deal was motivated by any anti-Israel sentiment," Dershowitz told Breitbart News. "I think that both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry believe that the deal is in the best interest of the U.S. and Israel. But I think they're dead wrong.
"When you do a risk-benefit analysis, the possibility that this will actually result in ending Iran's nuclear weapons program is probably in the range of 10%, and the risk that it will increase their likelihood of moving quickly toward developing a nuclear weapon is in the 20% to 30% range. The rest is uncertainty.
"I think it was a very bad example of negotiating from weakness rather than strength. The U.S. had Iran where we wanted them, in a much weakened position. And instead of continuing the pressure we sent three messages. 1. Sanctions are over. We are going to eliminate some now--it's only a few billion dollars' worth, but we are going to send a message to China and others that have been dying to so business with Iran that it's OK. And we will never get them back to that point of pressure. 2. I think we effectively took the military option off the table and made it much more difficult for Israel to pursue a military option in the next several months. 3. We gave them a yellow light, at least, if not quite a green one, as to continuing onto certain aspects of developing nuclear weapons--triggering devices and material that could be easily transposed to military use.
"It's no surprise that the Iranians are jumping up in the air celebrating, and American experts are deeply divided as to whether this is a good deal or bad deal. Of course someone like Zbigniew Brzezinski says it's a good deal--he's the perfect litmus test. He's always wrong. If you look back at his history, from the day he became an adviser to Jimmy Carter, I can't think of one decision where he turned out right. Korea, Syria, the Arab Spring, and the Palestinians--he's much worse than a broken clock, which is right twice a day. I challenge anyone to find any major issue of foreign policy on which Brzezinski has been right over past four years. The idea that the Obama administration listened to this man is remarkable to me. Where does this notion that he's a wise man come from? His history is one mistake after the other.
"The model I think the Obama administration is following is the Syria model, where they accidentally backed into a success. But that's not the actual model [here]. The model is North Korea, which a was an utter failure. That's where we are--a bad deal. Not badly motivated, but foolish and naive, and it could be catastrophic in its outcome.
"This decision is much more likely in my view to lead to a military confrontation than increasing the sanctions. The Obama administration thinks increasing sanctions would increase the chances of war. They are dead wrong. I think this increases the chances of war. It increases the chance Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It increases the chance of an Israeli attack. It increases the chance Saudi Arabia will have to try to obtain its own nuclear weapon. It increases chances of a general arms race.
"This is not a conflict [of views] between Israel and the U.S. alone. I would say that the best minds in the U.S. are against this deal. Certainly a lot of the people whom I have spoken to, who are not particularly concerned about anything but American security, think it's a bad deal. So let's not make this into division between the U.S. and Israel. It's a division within the United States. And for the most part, Israel is united--not completely, [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert seems to be supportive--but Ari Shavit, the left-wing Ha'aretz reporter, is very critical of the deal, as are other leftist people in the Israeli establishment.
"Many people thought that [British Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain was correct [in 1938] when he bartered an important part of Czechoslovakia for the hope of peace. I don't think he was badly motivated, either. I just think he didn't fully understand the great danger of Nazism and the great threat of a Nazi regime that had the Sudetenland. This could become a Chamberlain moment. Chamberlain would have gone down in history as one of the great Chancellors of the Exchequer and Prime Ministers of England because he brought widows and orphans pensions. He just failed to comprehend fully one of the greatest evils of the 20th century. I think the Obama administration has failed to understand the evil of the mullahs. Iran was weakened by the sanctions. We've given them a great victory.
"Congress can do something about it--in fact, two things. First, it can pass a resolution right now authorizing the president to use military action in the event that Iran crosses certain red lines, so that the president doesn't have to come back after the fact. Second, it can pass an act automatically restoring and increasing the sanctions if the Iranians break any of their promises. Congress has important role to play in creating two Swords of Damocles--a military Sword of Damocles and a sanctions Sword of Damocles. My preference is for sanctions over military action. But when you reduce sanctions, you increase the chances of the military option being used.
"Iran's goal has always been to create a wedge between Israel and the U.S. They are the smartest enemy the U.S. and Israel have faced in recent years. They have proven they are smarter. We fell for the pretext of a new president with a smiley face. It will only turn out for the best if Congress takes strong action."
Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat, added:
"I've become a big Lindsey Graham fan. He saw this coming."