The Obama administration’s mad push for an Iranian nuclear deal has Iran throwing all sorts of last-minute spoilers onto the table, knowing that Obama will not, cannot, walk away. The President wants his historic diplomatic achievement, Secretary of State John Kerry is eyeing a Nobel Peace Prize, and there is no way the Obama team would hand its real adversaries–their domestic political opposition–a huge victory by scuttling the Iran deal.
There is much talk of deadlines looming ominously, but Iran knows perfectly well that the deadline is its friend–and the West’s enemy. They have yet to see any reason they should stop pushing for more last-minute concessions.
As New Jersey Governor and freshly-declared presidential candidate Chris Christie put it over the weekend, “You give them your belt, they’ll want your pants next. That’s the way it goes.” This suggests a memorable slogan for his presidential campaign: Vote Christie 2016 Because Iran Won’t Want His Pants.
There is more on the table here than nuclear weapons. It is an increasingly open secret that Obama views his Iranian partners-in-peace as the key to “fixing” the Middle East, by propping up the Shiite theocracy as a regional hegemon that will ruthlessly suppress Sunni extremists like ISIS. It is a fundamental belief of the Obama foreign policy brain trust that Iran says a lot of crazy, incendiary things to please domestic audiences and impress Muslim nations it wants to fold into the new Persian Empire, but deep down, the mullahs are trustworthy statesmen and businessmen.
Sure, they sponsor terrorism and have killed many American, but at the end of the day, they want power, prestige, and prosperity. Younger Iranians, both foes and supporters of the current regime, seem more interested in the wider world than their parents and grandparents. If we hold our noses, we can do business with Tehran, in a way we never could with ISIS or the Taliban.
Also, the Iranians are far more organized and ambitious than the Sunni terror states or the rich, lazy oil kingdoms. Iran really does want to run the whole show, and if Obama puts them on the glide path to nuclear weapons (probably much sooner than the administration’s talking points would have you believe, but still long after Obama is safely retired) they have a genuine shot at putting most of the Middle East under their heels. They are putting a lot of effort into making themselves either the friend every Middle Eastern nation needs, or the enemy it fears. The Associated Press ran an interview this weekend with Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, in which he talked about how lifting those nuclear sanctions against Tehran would mean happy days for Kabul, bringing both Iranian investment money and security support against ISIS and the Taliban.
Toby Harnden at the UK Sunday Times is hearing this kind of talk more openly from U.S. officials as the deadline for a nuclear deal approaches, gets kicked back a few weeks, and approaches again:
Barack Obama will “go for broke” to secure a historic nuclear deal with Iran this week, despite fears that the resultant lifting of sanctions on Tehran could lead to a surge in its support for terrorism throughout the Middle East.
Both present and former American officials describe Obama as being obsessed with carving his mark on history by restoring diplomatic relations with Iran after decades of animosity and possibly even visiting Tehran next year.
“Obama wants this as the centrepiece of his legacy, and he believes a peaceful Iran could be a bulwark against Isis in the Middle East and the key to peace there,” said an American diplomat involved in the negotiations, which face a deadline for agreement on Tuesday.
Harnden goes on to quote opponents of the deal who say that Iranian nukes in a few years are bad enough, but the more immediate danger is that the instant sanctions relief they are now demanding will give them billions more to spend on sponsoring terrorism around the globe.
Even as Obama-friendly a media outlet as CNN describes the President as “legacy-hunting” rather than seriously attending to the needs of American security–and that is in an article that gushes over what a fantastic month Obama has been having, thanks not to anything he personally has done, but to the Supreme Court and Republican Party showering him with gifts (the Constitution-shredding Obamacare and gay marriage decisions from the former, the trade deal from the latter).
“His Iran and Cuba diplomacy is also symbolically vital because, although the administration has racked up some achievements, it cannot yet boast a major strategic victory abroad,” says CNN, hilariously underplaying the fiery disaster Obama’s foreign policy has left strewn across the globe (if only the problem was that Obama’s record were mediocre!). “The Iran deal could make it into that category. The plan is to freeze Iran’s nuclear program a year or so away from the point where it could produce a weapon. In return, world powers would begin to ease sanctions that have throttled Iran’s economy.”
“The plan” is really not about nukes; Obama and his foreign-policy advisers do not think Iran will nuke anyone, ever, no matter when they get The Bomb. It is about building up Greater Iran and making a historic diplomatic opening that will have future historians burbling that peace with the new Middle East began the day Obama gave away the store to smirking Iranian negotiators and signed that nuclear deal.
The most grimly amusing thing about these final days of the nuclear-deal farce is that Iran is not even trying to pretend it has any warm feelings for its negotiating partners. Thus, we have Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian ground forces, quoted by The Jerusalem Post musing that Iran still views America as the enemy, no matter how many humiliating concessions Obama is willing to lay at its feet.
“The US might arrive at some agreements with us within the framework of the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany), but we should never hold a positive view over the enemy,” said Pourdastan. “Our enmity with them is over the principles and is rooted because we are after the truth and nations’ freedom, but they seek exploiting nations and putting them in chains.”
That is not just a bit of defiant rhetoric tossed out to keep Iranian hard-liners on board with a “moderate” regime Obama has charmed into making peace. The Iranians view this nuclear deal as defeated enemies surrendering to them. Not a single thing they have said or done argues otherwise. They think this is all about making the Western world apologize for inconveniencing mighty Iran and penalizing them for a nuclear program they have a sacred right to pursue.