On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that President Barack Obama had sent a “secret letter” to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in late October. The letter supposedly focused on proposals to cooperate in fighting the Islamic State terror army. Yet the Journal could not confirm its contents firsthand, or whether the letter had also included proposals regarding the nuclear talks now dragging out for months beyond the original deadline.
The letter is not Obama’s first to the man he acknowledges–in contrast to his White House predecessors–as the Supreme Leader. Yet its existence alone is groundbreaking in a number of ways. First, the letter represents the tacit acknowledgment that the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani–touted by Obama and the western media as a “moderate”–has not, in fact, had much of a real impact, since Obama is circumventing him entirely.
Second, the letter undermines Secretary of State John Kerry and the diplomatic team working closely on the international negotiations. Much as he disrupted pre-existing international negotiations when he took office in 2009, and much as he shunted aside diplomatic efforts in the UN that had produced unanimous Security Council resolutions against Iranian nuclear enrichment, Obama is insisting on taking control relations himself.
The effect of Obama’s interventions over six years has been uniformly to the benefit of the Iranian regime: first by protecting it from revolt, then by softening sanctions, securing its gains in Syria, and isolating Israel. Though the State Department insists that Obama’s letter was about ISIS and not about nuclear talks, there is no way to de-link the two, and observers suspect Obama would offer Iran nuclear capacity in exchange for help in Iraq.
Members of Congress–a body that, in both parties, is much more hawkish on Iran than the White House–are said to be disturbed by Obama’s letter. Speaker of the House John Boehner was asked about Obama’s overture to Iran on Thursday, and reiterated that he does not trust Iran–neither on the nuclear issue nor the ISIS issue. Ron Fournier of the National Journal–often a defender of Obama–said that Obama’s approach “scares me.”
The emerging consensus among close observers of the Obama administration is that the White House is so determined to achieve détente with Iran that it is shunting traditional allies in the region–and not just Israel–to the side. His strategy of “equilibrium” seeks to establish Iran as a stable regional hegemon that will counter the Sunni regimes as well as Israel. The potential cost–in military threat and political freedom–is ignored.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak