Empty Phrases

The idea of forcing Iran to the table through crippling sanctions was having its desired effect and the next logical step was to maintain or intensify sanctions to force Iran into abandoning its quest for a nuclear bomb, so why an "agreement"?

Larry Gordon

OpEds Larry Gordon
Larry Gordon

As Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” That might come as news to the Obama administration, which seems to live by a different version of that credo; apparently the Obama folks might just live by the adage “You can fool some of the people some of the time and the rest of the people the rest of the time.”

If it were not so sad, it might be comedic. But there is nothing funny here, as the worst-case scenario and the most nightmarish rumors regarding the U.S. and leading European countries’ framework nuclear agreement with Iran seem to be true.

The desperation and irresponsibility displayed by the U.S. negotiators is nothing short of startling. It has been stated here and in other media as well over the last year. This is an agreement that came into being largely as a result of President Obama’s need to point to some kind of foreign-policy achievement, even if that purported success is really a failure.

And if it is a failed effort that places Israel and other Middle Eastern countries in overt danger, all one needs to do is state the exact opposite of that reality. If it is an unsuccessful, drawn-out negotiation, all one need do is say that it was in fact a great success. Right away, at least half of the people will go for that deception and take it at face value.

There were times over the last year when I believed that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was overstating the case for stopping Iran. He has been talking about it at the UN and in other forums for years, and it seemed like nothing particularly dangerous was happening and that if the Iranian nuclear effort could be contained and limited, that might be sufficient.

But unfortunately that is not the case here. Iran is not a normal country with a sane leadership. Sometimes I wonder whether Barack Obama has learned how to deceive and mislead the American people by observing what Iran’s leaders do all the time.

Evidently Mr. Obama’s greatest fib of the last six and a half years was that his administration would be the most transparent in the history of this country. These days, there is hardly anything completely true that spills out of this administration.

Mr. Obama said it straightaway into the cameras at a TV interview in the aftermath of the announcement of a preliminary deal with Iran. In an effort to reassure Israel and other skeptics, the president said, “Iran will not have a nuclear bomb on my watch.”

That may not have been the biggest lie, but it was an important one. Some will argue that the statement is absolutely true, because Mr. Obama will be in office for only another 20 months. Even according to the most loosely structured understanding of the framework agreement, Iran will not be capable of achieving nuclear status for a few years and perhaps for as long as ten years. But that was not the detail that the recent Obama statement was meant to communicate.

The objective here was to impress upon a distracted public that the president has made assurances that Iran will not get the bomb now. Will they get it at some point in the future? The president and his representatives would obfuscate and blur that issue by responding that we need to deal with the present before we can address the future.

And while this approach may contain some minimal validity, this type of outcome of the Iran negotiations was not the original objective. To the public, the idea of forcing Iran to the table through crippling sanctions was having its desired effect and the next logical step was to maintain or if need be intensify sanctions to force Iran into abandoning its quest for a nuclear bomb.

But this is the point where the Obama administration’s hapless and often helpless approach to foreign policy sets things rapidly in the wrong direction. When a country like the United States is not leading, as you can see, the rest of the world suffers grievously. And that is what we are witnessing today. To burnish one man’s legacy, the best interests of the U.S. are being contorted in an unhealthy way.

This entire fiasco of trying to exclude Congress from having a say on the Iran matter while including the United Nations is symptomatic of a policy gone terribly wrong. If Mr. Obama had a proven track record on foreign policy instead of a combination of repeated failures and misguided decisions, it would perhaps be a bit more tempting to see what he could accomplish with the terrorist regime in Iran. But that is not the case.

The idea consistently floated by the administration that the choice is between this deal and war is one of the greater deceptions by the president. It needs to be reiterated that it was international sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table to begin with, and the leaders there need to be squeezed even more in order to get them to voluntarily give up on developing nuclear weapons.

The original Obama–Kerry objective was for the details to remain secret until such time as they became relevant, at which point it would be far too late...
Now that the White House has seen that it will not be possible to circumvent Congress on any deal with Iran, the process will take on a different look. Though the president’s original plan has been significantly derailed for now, we can expect Mr. Obama to declare victory nevertheless. That’s just what he does.

Looking back, it may very well be that the turning point in what is becoming a revised process was the speech before Congress by Prime Minister Netanyahu in early March. The prime minister saw the evolving deal with Iran as a pathway to nuclear capability for a terror state. It became clear that this was indeed the case only after details of the framework agreement became known. The original Obama–Kerry objective was for the details to remain secret until such time as they became relevant, at which point it would be far too late to do anything about the agreement.

Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s unanimous vote on Tuesday in favor of directing the president to send any agreement to Congress for approval, all Israel had was Mr. Obama’s hollow assurances about how the U.S. had Israel’s best interests at heart. In a radio interview, Mr. Obama said, “If Iran messes with Israel, the United States will be there.”

Talk about empty, meaningless phrases. What does “messes with Israel” mean? What will it take for the U.S. to consider an Iranian-instigated mess? Are Iranian troops near the Golan Heights considered a mess? What about Iranian support of terror attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas on Israel and Jews—does that qualify as “messing” with Israel? What about the void and vacant assurance that “the U.S. will be there”? Is that one of those favorite Obama administration pronouncements about our thoughts and prayers being with the people of Israel before going out to play 18 holes of golf?

In the event—G-d forbid—of a nuclear bomb or warhead being launched by Iran in Israel’s direction, does the U.S. being there mean that American troops will fly to aid the Jewish state in their fight against the terrorists? Or does the U.S. “being there for Israel” mean that in the event of such an attack, the U.S. will support a resolution in the UN Security Council condemning Iran? That is also a level of being there, albeit a minimal one.

Where this process leads is still up in the air. If we learned or accomplished anything this week, it is that there is still only one person who is the “Supreme Leader,” and that is in Iran.