Here comes the Iran nuclear deal deadline and, to heighten tension, Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Zarif has run home to check a few things. The media is flooded with articles about the presumed outline of the deal, the increasing warmth between American and Iranian negotiators, and the increasing distance between the U.S. and its former allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. The tide of ink is overwhelming, as befits a potentially earth-shattering (no pun) deal. Interestingly, in the late stages, the swell of opinion, including from some very high-powered Washington players, is running against what appears to be a weak American position.
“Obama Ignores the Tehran-Terror Connection” appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and more directly, “Obama Favors for the Mullahs,” which links concessions for the deal to broader errors in Middle East policy. Commentary magazine took the WSJ concerns and turned them into a handy 11-point chart. Even the Washington Post, normally in the president’s corner, warns against the U.S. being deterred by Khomeini’s threats.
“U.S. Lawmakers Step Up Warnings Against ‘Weak’ Iran Deal,” from Reuters is only a representative piece showing the depth of concern on Capitol Hill — including among influential Democrats — about potential Iranian cheating. There is concern in some quarters that the administration may forfeit the sanctions just to get a deal. And AP reports the U.S. is ready to offer Tehran high-tech reactors and other state of the art equipment “if it agrees to crimp programs that can make atomic arms.”
A prestigious group including several former advisers to President Obama plus a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Senator, offered a program for making the deal “more secure,” noting, “We fear that the current negotiations, unless concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement.”
Iran’s ballistic missile program is not part of the deal, making European countries nervous, as they are within closer range than the U.S.
Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen worried publicly that the Arab countries are likely to respond to the deal by advancing their own nuclear programs. He’s not alone.
Obama’s own one-time DIA Director Gen. Michael Flynn testified to Congress that the deal as it appears now constituted is a “placeholder” based on “wishful thinking.”
Warnings include the fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader has his own red lines that nullify three of our own: 10 years is too long, there will be no inspection of military sites and signing must be accompanied by a complete lifting of all economic and other sanctions. The Iranian Parliament agreed with Khamenei, chanting “Death to America” while voting to ban inspections of military sites.
Russian veto could sanctions scuttle the restoration of sanctions, leaving the success of the deal in the hands of Vladimir Putin.
And if you worry about the security of Israel under a deal, “How Obama is selling out the Middle East to Iran” in the National Review says, “Don’t worry, it’s already happened.”
The best a former IDF Chief of Military Intelligence could come up with in support of the deal a few weeks ago was that “it isn’t final yet.” He added, “My concern is that the administration will reach bad deal, and will define it as acceptable.”
Under the circumstances, it can’t be said that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are unaware of the potential downsides of a bad deal. So why are they so firmly determined to have a signed piece of paper?
Mr. Obama and Secretary Kerry tell us they know all about Iran’s nasty proclivities, including cheating on prior agreements. But that was then and this is now. Speaking at the State Department last week, Kerry said, “We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.”
Not only military activities.
Washington is also fully aware that Iran executes homosexuals and executed approximately 800 other people in 2014 and 329 thus far in 2015 — sometimes in public and sometimes graphically. (You may not want to open that link.) Iran arrests journalists (including Jason Rezaian, an American from the Washington Post), and holds three other Americans, including a pastor and a Marine.
They know, they know. The past is nothing, the future is all. Kerry continued, “What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.”
What can be so important that all of the above is overlooked by the Administration for a piece of paper outlining the terms of a deal that — if history is our guide — doesn’t accurately reflect Iran’s capabilities and on which Iran is prepared to cheat? A hope and a prayer? A legacy for Mr. Obama? A Nobel Peace Prize for Mr. Kerry — consolation for losing the presidential race?
Too much risk of too many lives for too little return.
If a deal is signed — by June 30th or July 7th (the new possible date) — looking the way it looks now, Congress must find its unified voice and put a stop to it, voting a resolution of disapproval with more than 60 votes.
Because Congress knows everything the administration knows.